Cantwell Announces Nearly One Million Gallon Deal to Spark Northwest Biofuel Growth

First Major Biodiesel Deal with Port of Seattle and SSA Marine“We can innovate the way to energy independence.”

SEATTLE, WA - U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) Thursday announced that SSA Marine the world's largest privately held cargo terminal operator and cargo handling company, and the Port of Seattle have joined together to enter into a deal for nearly one million gallons of biodiesel annually beginning in 2006 by converting their entire vehicle fleet to run on Washington-produced biodiesel.

"This agreement shows that the Northwest continues to lead the way on reducing our nation’s overdependence on fossil fuels," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate’s Commerce and Energy Committees. "The leadership shown by the Port and SSA Marine should serve as a model for all of America’s ports. The Northwest’s ingenuity demonstrates once again that it makes economic sense for America’s businesses to use environmentally-friendly alternative fuels. We can innovate the way to energy independence."

The nearly one million gallon annual commitment between SSA Marine and the Port is the largest venture of its kind, and once completed, will represent the highest concentration of biofuel being used in one place in the United States. SSA Marine plans to consume approximately 800,000 gallons of biodiesel at its operations at Terminals 18 and 25 by ramping up its use of biodiesel for dockside loading and container moving equipment from a two percent blend to a 20 percent blend within three months. The Port of Seattle expects to consume 20,000 gallons of the same 20 percent biodiesel blend annually when it finishes converting all of its service vehicles. The biodiesel will be produced in Washington state.

"We understand that as a leader in the maritime industry we can and should help provide a healthy environment for our employees and community," said Jon Hemingway, SSA Marine president and CEO. "Converting to biodiesel is not only good for the environment, but also makes good business sense. Senator Cantwell very clearly shares that vision and is a tremendous advocate for this burgeoning industry. We are very proud to be working with her."

In a letter to Cantwell announcing the Port’s commitment to the deal, Mic Dinsmore, chief executive officer of the Port, wrote that Cantwell’s "vision for a cleaner environment and strong Washington economy on both sides of the Cascades got this deal done. And so did your tenacity. We look forward to providing you with good data as you continue to encourage other end-users to use a Washington-made product to protect our air and improve our economy."

In a related announcement, Seattle Biodiesel, the leading biodiesel producer in the Northwest announced plans today to significantly expand capacity in response to market demand. Seattle Biodiesel currently operates a 5 million gallon per year refinery on the Duwamish River.

"Senator Cantwell’s leadership in securing commitments from SSA Marine and the Port of Seattle to use large quantities of biodiesel has given Seattle Biodiesel the confidence to accelerate our expansion plans," said John Plaza, president and founder of Seattle Biodiesel. "We are in the final stages of site selection for our second, much larger refinery and expect to significantly increase our current capacity on line by the end of 2006. We strongly support the leadership shown in this magnificent step forward to energy independence for Washington."

In October of last year, Cantwell convened the BioFuels Business Collaborative - a group of Washington businesses, farmers, investors, and fuel consumers - to help create a Washington biofuels industry. The Port of Seattle and SSA Marine are two of the charter members of the Collaborative. Cantwell first raised the possibility of SSA Marine’s conversion of its terminal vehicles to biodiesel during a May meeting with company president and CEO Jon Hemingway.

Cantwell’s legislation to accelerate the development of a viable, national biofuels industry became law in August as part of the energy bill. The law includes a $550 million "Advanced Biofuel Technologies Program," to further develop biofuels from a wide variety of plant materials - such as wheat straw, oil seed crops, and even agricultural waste - common in Washington state. The law also encourages special incentives for refiners to use non-corn sources like wheat straw to meet new renewable energy goals. Other Cantwell-supported provisions now passed into law include new tax incentives to encourage the installation of biofuel pumps at gas stations, expanded biodiesel tax credits, and federal loan guarantees for commercial cellulosic ethanol facilities, the first of which is expected to be built in the Pacific Northwest.