Biodiesel Fuel Hub Coming to Pasco Thanks to Federal Grant

Tidewater Terminal Company’s Snake River Terminal will supply cleaner fuel to Eastern WA farmers, help meet new state fuel standards, and reduce carbon footprint of wheat, barley, potato harvests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that Tidewater Terminal Company has been awarded a $3,072,696 in federal matching funds to complete their Clean Energy Transition Project and establish a major new biodiesel distribution hub in the Tri-Cities, making biodiesel more available for eastern Washington farmers. The grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), which aims to bolster America’s energy independence by significantly increasing use of renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.

“Supplying homegrown fossil fuel alternatives to Washington state’s agriculture economy will help farmers meet their fuel needs while lowering their carbon footprint,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Increasing regional fuel supplies should also help reduce petroleum diesel prices that have remained at historic highs and cost businesses throughout the region.”

“Transitioning to a clean energy economy is how we tackle the climate crisis while creating good paying jobs in every part of our state—and that absolutely needs to include our farmers and rural communities,” said Sen. Murray. “With this funding I helped to secure, biodiesel will be readily available for farmers across eastern Washington and beyond. This is going to lower costs, lower carbon emissions, and strengthen the local economy. This is a huge win for the entire Tri-Cities community.”

“This federal award supports Tidewater’s goal of establishing a regional distribution center to serve rural, agricultural communities in the Pacific Northwest with renewable energy resources,” said Todd Busch, Tidewater President and CEO. “I would like to thank Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray for all their work to secure this investment in our region.”

Tidewater will use HBIIP and matching funding to install specialty equipment required for the blending, storage, and distribution of biodiesel fuels at the SRT along the Columbia River in Pasco. These upgrades will allow Tidewater to receive neat biodiesel by railcar, store it in two 400,000-gallon tanks, and blend and offload it for delivery through an upgraded and expanded truck rack. Once complete, Tidewater will have a dedicated truck bay for biodiesel blending and neat biodiesel, and capabilities to provide biodiesel to a pipeline serving the BNSF Railway's fueling system in its Pasco rail yard.

The Pasco facility will expand the annual availability of biodiesel for eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and northern Idaho by more than 12 million gallons per year. Harvests of crops like wheat, barley, and potatoes, which require heavy machinery, could have a lower carbon footprint as area farmers use these fuels. Tidewater will be able to provide as much as 2 million gallons per month to supply farmers during peak harvest times.  Gas stations can also sell the fuel, so people can use it to power diesel freight trucks and construction equipment. Tidewater plans to make the fuel available to BNSF Railway, which is seeking to cut its emissions by 30 percent.

The facility’s planned opening in 2024 comes in advance of an important deadline for cutting carbon emissions. Biodiesel, which can be made from a range of feedstocks including soybean oil, animal fats and used cooking oil, produces significantly less carbon emissions and local air pollution than conventional petroleum-based fuels. At the beginning of this year, the State of Washington’s Clean Fuel Standard program went into effect. The program has a five-year temporary exemption in the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) for fuel used “for the transport of agricultural products on public highways.” The biodiesel blending system at Pasco will help farmers meet the fuel standard when the exemption expires.

Sens. Cantwell and Murray have long supported the development of the nation’s biodiesel fuel industry. Both have been strong advocates for establishing and extending the biodiesel tax credit. After the tax incentive was first implemented, the U.S. biodiesel market grew from about 100 million gallons annually in 2005 to more than 2.6 billion in 2016. Studies have shown that every 100 million gallon increase in U.S. biodiesel production creates 3,200 jobs and $780 million in economic opportunity. A shift to 100 percent domestic production would support an additional 9,900 jobs, $400 million in wages, and $2.5 billion in economic activity.