The Ontario Government yesterday published a notice in the Environmental Registry stating that it had decided to proceed with regulations imposing a provincial biodiesel mandate which will come into force starting today.
In its initial December 2013 proposal, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) called for an annual average of 2% biofuel content in all diesel fuel sold in the province for the period of April 2014 to December 31 2015; followed by an annual average of biofuel content of 4% biodiesel starting after 2016. The regulation published today delays full implementation by one year and includes a 3% intermediary phase before the 4% mandate kicks in in 2017. Northern Ontario will not be included in the mandate until 2017.
The Ontario mandate, unlike the federal biodiesel mandate, will also require/incentive fuel producers to use biodiesel from plant based product — feedstock petroleum refiners have been less inclined to use because of concerns related to availability, winter and other performance criteria. (Most of the biofuel content used to meet the federal mandate is synthetic and is imported from off-shore sources).
OTA’s primary concerns over the proposed mandate have consistently been about the averaging provisions, particularly when the full mandate takes effect, which the association fears will inevitably lead to the use of biodiesel with a higher biofuel content than that currently accepted by most heavy truck engine manufacturers’ warranties and the need for strict requirements for adherence to fuel quality standards. OTA felt the best way to ensure those concerns are addressed would be through a cap on biofuel content at 5%. The Ministry of the Environment, on the other hand, felt that enough flexibility has been built into the regulation to avoid biodiesel being sold at B5 or greater.
“With the introduction of the regulations we have no choice but to see what happens,” says OTA president David Bradley. “It’s unfortunate that the legitimate concerns of the consumer were not more explicitly addressed when the Ministry of the Environment had the chance to do so during the writing of the regulation. However, going forward, we’re calling upon the Ministry of the Environment to now work with us and the Ministry of Transportation to ensure that warranty issues, fuel quality and winter performance are monitored and corrective action taken when necessary.”