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National biodiesel mandate needs rethinking: CTA

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says the Government of Canada needs to rethink its approach to a national biodiesel mandate set to kick in July 1 and introduce measures to protect consumers of biodiesel from higher fuel...


OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) says the Government of Canada needs to rethink its approach to a national biodiesel mandate set to kick in July 1 and introduce measures to protect consumers of biodiesel from higher fuel prices, a loss of fuel efficiency and engine and warranty problems from sub-standard fuel.
 
The CTA says a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) on the mandate, which was published in the Feb. 26 edition of the Canada Gazette, notes that the costs of the biodiesel mandate outweigh the benefits by $2.4 billion over 25 years, will only contribute to a marginal reduction in greenhouse gases (1 Mt CO2 per year), and will cost consumers through higher pump prices and reduced fuel efficiency. The RIAS also lists the more than $2.2 billion in subsidies for the biofuel industry announced in recent years.
 
CTA says that there is nothing in the RIAS that addresses its members’ longstanding concerns over the lack of quality standards for biofuel or the impact that biofuel at certain blend levels allowed under the regulation could have on the operability and durability of their engines and warranties.
 
“There is no protection for the consumer, either from higher fuel costs as a result of the mandate, or from low-quality biofuel or blending processes that could gum up our engines,” says David Bradley, CEO of the CTA. “The biofuel producers are getting literally everything they want – regulatory certainty, a captive market and massive subsidies – all of which they can take to the bank, whereas the consumer, mainly truckers, will get even higher fuel prices that we currently have at a time when trucking companies are just finding their financial legs after being ravaged by the recession, higher engine maintenance costs and the potential for their engine warranties to be voided.”
 
Bradley insists CTA is not opposed to the introduction of alternative fuels into the trucking industry. “We have been consistent on this point; why wouldn’t we want to reduce our reliance on oil? But, we need to be sure the fuel we put in our tanks works, it has to be in plentiful supply and it should not cost us more than regular diesel.”

“As it stands now, the way the government is approaching the biodiesel mandate fails on all counts. It’s clear this is not about the environment – there are ways to achieve significantly greater GHG reductions in trucking for a lot less,” he says.
 
Bradley says CTA continues to talk to the federal government and has tabled proposals which it says would provide a level of comfort to the truckers, but it remains to be seen whether the government will adopt them. “When you consider what the government’s own regulatory analysis says about the mandate as currently planned, one would hope that the reasonable thing to do would be to have a bit of a rethink, but time is tight.”


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