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CRFA “clearly defensive” over biofuel report: Bradley

OTTAWA – Sniping continues between the Canadian Trucking Association (CTA) and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) over the use of biofuels in Canada.

CTA president David Bradley says a regulatory impact analysis statement on the proposed biodiesel mandate set to come into force on July 1st of this year, has put CRFA in defensive mode.

The analysis, released by the federal government, found the cost of requiring all on-road diesel fuel sold in Canada to contain an average 2 per cent biofuel content would exceed benefits by $2.5 billion over the next 25 years and produce negligible greenhouse gas reductions.

CRFA issued a press release earlier this month accusing Bradley of “misleading Canadians” when he dismissed the CRFA’s findings as “warmed over studies” by experts whose objectivity he questioned.

The CRFA “is clearly defensive,” Bradley says, since the federal government’s findings are more aligned with CTA’s position.

The government’s regulatory impact statement says truckers’ fuel costs will increase as a result of the biodiesel mandate, reflecting a combination of higher prices at the pump and reduced fuel efficiency.

CTA cites data from the U.S. which shows that, depending on the biofuel blend, the differential between the pump prices for biodiesel and regular diesel could be significantly higher than the numbers estimated by Environment Canada in the regulatory impact analysis statement.

CRFA meanwhile claims that its experts believe prices will go down.

CRFA has not responded to CTA’s concerns over potential supply issues, notably that Canada will have to import as much as 85 per cent of its biodiesel needs to meet the demand, at least for the first several years, or that biodiesel cannot be transported by pipeline.

“If CRFA is so sure that biodiesel prices will be less than regular diesel and that supply won’t be an issue, why won’t it support an amendment to the regulation which would enable the government to suspend the mandate should prices exceed that of regular diesel or if we end up with supply shortages?” says Bradley.

For its part, CRFA dismisses CTA’s concerns over the potential impact biodiesel could have on the operability and durability of most heavy truck engines as “untrue” saying that biodiesel will work well in “all” truck engines, citing the results of some very limited studies conducted in recent years in near-perfect conditions.

Bradley pointed out that the ethanol mandate for gasoline established a maximum blend rate of 10 per cent specifically to address warranty issues.

“Why won’t CRFA support a cap at B5 for now, and then perhaps move the limit up over time when and if the engine technology develops to be able to safely use it? Higher blends could still be sold to those that want it as a special fuel.” Most engine warranties for heavy trucks cover B5 or less.

“On balance, the government’s regulatory impact statement raises sufficient concern about the costs and the payback of the biodiesel mandate, that might lead some to question why Canada is heading down this road at all,” says Bradley. “Without some level of consumer protection from increased fuel costs, fuel quality, engine problems, warranty issues and supply shortages, we would agree. What we’re asking for is only fair. We’re not opposed to creating new markets for farmers as long as it’s not on truckers’ backs."

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Bio Fuel.. Am I wrong, or is that using food for fuel.

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