Cantwell Urges Swift Approval of Construction of Nation’s Largest Biodiesel Facility in Grays Harbor

Cantwell Teams Up Grays Harbor and Seattle BioDiesel for Proposal Today at Port of Grays Harbor Review Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC – Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged the Port of Grays Harbor and Seattle Biodiesel to swiftly adopt the proposal for the construction of the largest biodiesel facility in the United States on land owned by the Port of Grays Harbor between Aberdeen and Hoquiam. Cantwell, a long time advocate of Washington’s biofuels industry, praised the proposal and encouraged the port commissioners to take up the agreement. Over the past several years, Cantwell has worked to increasing the amount of fuel Washington can grow and produce locally to help bring costs down, keep energy prices stable, and deliver a reliable alternative to oil for Washington consumers.

“This is a great opportunity for Grays Harbor and I hope the Port Commissioners will adopt this proposal for the plant as soon as possible,” said Cantwell. “This project will not only provide good local jobs, but, as the largest biodiesel facility in the United States, also give a significant boost to our state’s fledgling biofuels industry. This is a huge win for everyone involved and I want to commend both the Port of Grays Harbor and Seattle Biodiesel for rolling up their sleeves and getting this proposal to this point. Today is an important day and I hope that we’ll see a deal move forward very soon.”

The $40 million biodiesel facility would create 50 permanent jobs, and could employ 250 or more during its construction. Last October, Cantwell convened the BioFuels Business Collaborative—a group of Washington businesses, farmers, investors, and fuel consumers—to help create a Washington biofuels industry and build facilities similar to the one planned for the port of Grays Harbor. Cantwell authored legislation included in last year’s Energy Policy Act to help find ways to create additional high value products during the biodiesel production, further reducing the overall cost of biodiesel. Next week Cantwell plans to introduce additional legislation that will include significant incentives and programs to make biofuels a real alternative to foreign oil. It will include support for biofuels production and the installation of biofuel fueling infrastructure, and will help get more flexible fuel cars on the road.

Last Thursday, Cantwell joined a broad bipartisan coalition of senators in introducing legislation to break our country’s oil addiction and achieve greater energy security for America. Together, the Enhanced Energy Security and Enhanced Energy Security Tax Incentives Acts combine an aggressive package of tax incentives with investments in alternative fuels to help develop new energy technologies, improve vehicle efficiency, and reduce oil imports.

After the inaugural meeting of the BioFuels Business Collaborative last year, Cantwell joined with representatives from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to announce that PSE will commit to running a portion of its utility truck fleet on a B20 biodiesel blend. A $70,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helped finance the project by funding the installation of new biodiesel processing technology at Bellingham Community College.

In December, Cantwell 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 by converting their entire vehicle fleet to run on Washington-produced biodiesel. The nearly one million gallon annual commitment between SSA Marine and the Port is the largest venture of its kind. 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. Washington state’s ferries may also become a biofuels purchaser in the near future.