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Ontario’s misguided biodiesel mandate

Ontario is hopping on the biodiesel bandwagon, requiring a 2% blend in on- and off-road diesel by 2014 and ramping up to a 4% blend by 2015. This begs two questions. The first is, why? Will this industry never get the credit it deserves for...

Ontario is hopping on the biodiesel bandwagon, requiring a 2% blend in on- and off-road diesel by 2014 and ramping up to a 4% blend by 2015. This begs two questions. The first is, why? Will this industry never get the credit it deserves for reducing its emissions on late-model equipment to near-zero levels? And the second question is, why biodiesel? Are there not more effective and less risky options available?
As the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has already brought to the province’s attention, the trucking industry has other means at its disposal by which to lessen its greenhouse gas emissions, and they are far more effective than mandating biofuel. Truck manufacturers are committed to significantly improving the fuel economy of the vehicles they produce between 2014 and 2017, by using a combination of currently available and future technologies.

These will include everything from low rolling resistance tires in the early years, to more advanced technologies such as waste heat recovery closer to 2017. The GHG regs which are being enforced by the US and in turn, adopted by Canada, deliver a net benefit to end users in the form of reduced fuel consumption.

Truckers will burn less fuel and as a result, produce less GHG. It’s a win-win situation for the trucking industry and the environment, and should appease legislators – even those who just can’t help but to get involved. Do the lawmakers who support such rules as the one that’s being proposed in Ontario even know about how far this industry has gone in recent years to reduce its environmental footprint? Do they know that the latest generation heavy trucks produce virtually no particulate matter or NOx? Do they even care?

What really bothers me about the latest effort to foist biodiesel upon the trucking industry is that this same province does not allow for proven fuel-saving devices such as trailer tails. Many progressive American carriers have deployed trailer tails across their entire trailer fleets. Here in Ontario, we’re told they’re too dangerous. Anyone who’s seen these devices in person knows you can fold them in with one hand – they don’t pose a hazard for traffic.

I’ve seen flatbed loads of steel coils where the steel hangs off the end of the trailer with little more than a red piece of cloth to warn other motorists of the overhang, yet full-length trailer tails remain illegal here. How can the province be so slow to approve a safe and proven fuel-saving device such as trailer tails while at the same time forcing upon industry a solution that will have minimal environmental impact and may incur additional costs upon operators?

Biodiesel has been known to gel up in cold weather and is there any way a 2-4% blend can be introduced without an increase in price? I’m skeptical. If the province really cares about lowering GHG emissions, then there are better ways to go about it. For starters, they could legalize full-length trailer tails. As CTA chief David Bradley writes on pg. XX of this issue, they could crack down on the tampering of emissions systems. They could introduce tax incentives on the purchase of new, cleaner trucks to help get some of the old equipment off the roads. There are other options. Is biodiesel really the best?

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1 Comment » for Ontario’s misguided biodiesel mandate
  1. Tom MacKay says:

    Our politicians don’t care and don’t know what the implications of Biodiesel usage will be. The EPA either does not know or does not care either. Have we not learned a lesson with the Ethanol in gasoline. Ethanol is creating severe damage to gasoline fuel systems. Will the biodiesel do the same to diesel fuel systems? I operate a 6 litre Ford (international)diesel an am concerned what will happen to my very expensive fuel injection system. I’, certain other truckers will have the same concerns. Diesel engines are very clean these days and that cleanliness has come at a very high cost to the trucking industry.

    Many of the emission systems have caused a good deal of trouble for the end user. Does the government care? NO! The government is talking about OEM’S improving fuel economy and that the biodiesel will help. I doubt this. My 7.3 litre Ford(International) delivered 22 mpg. My 6 litre Ford(International) delivers 12 mpg. I don’t consider this an improvement! How does burning more fuel per mile help the environment? The people in government making these choices don’t have a clue!

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