Biofuel Designation for Canola Presents Opportunity for Farmers

by Colter Brown

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its regulatory agenda for this year, which includes designating renewable diesel fuels derived from canola oil as “advanced biofuels” under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS). Canola oil is a commercially viable feedstock used for biofuel production. Renewable diesel producers have not utilized it due to the lack of an approved pathway under the RFS.

In November, the National Farmers Union wrote a letter to the Biden administration requesting such action. As a result, the EPA added the designation to their regulatory agenda. The EPA concluded that the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from biodiesel made with canola oil are half of the petroleum-based diesel fuel.

“The NFU has long advocated for increased use of biofuels due to their tremendous benefits for the environment while providing much-needed market alternatives and economic stability to America’s farming and rural communities,” says Rob Larew, National Farmers Union President.

He says regulatory certainty is needed to expand production, remove any distortions in the market for canola oil, and make additional investments in processing.

The Montana Farmers Union (MFU) says that farmers will be able to use this opportunity to now also grow canola for renewable diesel markets. This is especially important for growers in Northern Ag Network Country as North Dakota and Montana are the number 1 and 2 states in the nation for canola production.

Calumet Refinery in Great Falls is in the process of converting part of its capacity to renewable diesel. MFU says that Calumet will need one million acres of canola to supply their feedstock needs. Canola produces approximately four times more oil per acre than soybeans.

Currently, Montana grows about 150,000 acres of canola. This approved pathway paves the way for producers and refineries to utilize and expand the market using locally-grown canola instead of shipping in soybean oil from out of state.

“With Calumet’s conversion, and the sheer number of refineries in the US converting to renewable diesel, this is a game-changer for Montana farmers,” said MFU President Walter Schweitzer. “As demand for low carbon fuels increases, it is critical that the EPA diversify available feedstocks under the RFS to meet the growing demand. Montana Farmers Union urges fast rulemaking by the EPA to provide stability and a path forward for this growing market. Montana farmers are poised and ready to lead the canola oil market.”

The EPA will conduct rulemaking in January 2022.




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