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Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Cantwell, Imperium Renewables Tout Northwest Energy Leadership at Senate Biofuels Conference
Demonstrating potential for homegrown biofuel production, nation’s largest biodiesel plant, in Grays Harbor, to make one million gallons of biodiesel exclusively from canola grown by Washington state farmers
Thursday, February 01,2007
WASHINGTON, DC – Thursday, at a biofuels conference convened by the Senate Energy Committee, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Seattle-based Imperium Renewables highlighted the potential for domestically produced crops to transform America’s transportation fuel system, bolster national and economic security, and lead the way to a cleaner, more independent energy future. More than 30 experts, alternative energy leaders, and industry representatives are gathering in Washington, DC for the all-day biofuels conference, a key step in the Energy Committee’s work to develop new legislation to leverage home grown fuel sources to reduce America’s overdependence on fossil fuels.
Also participating in the Energy Committee’s biofuels conference is Dr. Michael Davis of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the Tri-Cities. In January, Cantwell announced the release of a groundbreaking PNNL study on the potential of plug-in hybrid vehicles. According to the study, the U.S. electricity grid is underutilized most of the time, and with the proper plan in place, could deliver enough power to fuel most of the country’s cars and light trucks. This would displace 6.5 million barrels of oil each day—an amount equivalent to 50 percent of our oil imports—and cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 20 percent.
Thursday morning, President of Imperium Renewables John Plaza announced that the company is beginning this week to use Washington state-grown canola to produce one million gallons of their biodiesel. Cantwell hailed the move as a sign that the region has the potential to grow and refine a significant portion of the fuel it uses within our state’s boundaries. Cantwell said she would continue working to level the playing field for alternative fuels, and to encourage growth in the market.
“Producing large amounts of fuel in Washington state from Washington state crops is a sign that our growing biofuels industry has truly taken off,” said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Finance Committees. “This is evidence that there’s real demand, real opportunities for Washington farmers in energy independence. Growing more crops we can turn into biofuels is good news for our state. A local Northwest fuel industry means more good jobs, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and more stable energy prices. It’s a win-win situation for local businesses and consumers alike, and an important step toward more stable, more affordable prices at the gas pump and future fuel export markets.”
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Norm Dicks (D-WA), Doc Hastings (R-WA), and Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) praised the deal for Washington farmers.
Murray said, “This business alliance represents a significant milestone for both the renewable fuel and agriculture industries in Washington state. Merging the production of local fuel crops and refining biodiesel in-state provides a new, exciting market opportunity for our farmers.”
Dicks said, “This is a great example of how the shift toward green energy development can create downstream effects that will help sustain and grow the biofuels industry in our region while helping to decrease our dependence on foreign sources of oil.”
Hastings said, “This agreement will help further position Washington state as a biofuels leader. As we work to achieve energy independence, the benefits biofuels could have for our energy supply and our agriculture economy cannot be ignored. I supported federal tax credits currently in place for biofuels, and I'll continue working to promote full exploration of biofuels and other domestic energy sources.”
McMorris Rodgers said, “Today we are one step closer to our goal of becoming energy independent and I commend Imperium Renewables and Natural Selection Farms for their efforts. This partnership creates a tremendous opportunity for our agricultural community, especially for farmers in Eastern Washington. We must continue to invest in the research and development of alternative energy sources. Through American resources and American innovations, it is possible to have a renewable and reliable domestic energy supply.”
Imperium Renewables has been working with Sunnyside-based Natural Selection Farms for the last 18 months now to find ways to produce all of its biodiesel from locally produced canola. Canola, which grows well in the Northwest and requires little water, performs better and at lower temperatures than fuel made from many other feedstocks, meaning it has great potential as a fuel source. The first shipment of canola oil from Natural Selection Farms, which operated a seed crushing facility in Sunnyside, is due this week.
Last May, Cantwell joined officials from the Port of Grays Harbor and Imperium Renewables to announce plans to build a $40 million, 540,000 square foot biodiesel facility on land owned by the Port of Grays Harbor between Aberdeen and Hoquiam. Full-scale construction began in October after Cantwell and Dicks toured the facility, which will be one of the largest of its kind in the country, producing up to 100 million gallons of biodiesel annually.
Cantwell is working with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to increase America’s energy independence, level the playing field for new renewable and energy efficiency technologies, boost our domestic biofuels industry, increase the availability of flex-fuel vehicles and biofuel pumps, and improve national fuel economy standards. Cantwell also believes that the U.S. government—the nation’s single largest energy consumer—must lead the way toward energy independence by adopting the best available fuel efficiency and alternative vehicle technologies to reduce its own petroleum consumption.