There have been a few different stories in the news recently showing how the government is giving biodiesel and its users a very hard time, from actually banning it all together in one state to giving out $2000 in fines to biodiesel users.
It all started back in December of 2006 when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) decided to place a ban on biodiesel due to the fact that at that time the Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions of biodiesel were 10% higher than that of regular gasoline. The TCEQ enforced a previously established set of regulations, called the “Texas Low Emission Diesel Standards” adopted in 2005. This set of standards put a limit on the amount of NOx that could be released into the atmosphere from burning diesel products.
Although I applaud the fact that this state government agency is doing their best to help enforce a clean air act, I am a bit shocked that the many benefits of biodiesel were not taken into consideration. The multiple benefits of biodiesel far outweigh in my opinion, the one small detriment (the 10% increase in NOx), which has already been solved.
The EPA has already run extensive test on different biodiesel grades all of which show drastic reductions in every other pollutant compared to regular diesel, but a small increase in NOx. However, because of biodiesel's lack of sulfur, this NOx emission increase can be solved by using an additive in biodiesel fuels, which cannot be used in conventional diesel. This makes biodiesel a superior fuel to diesel, just look at the stats published by the EPA:
Total Unburned Hydrocarbons
+2% to -2%
PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons)
nPAH (nitrated PAH's)
Ozone potential of speciated HC
Because of this controversial ban, industry leaders created the Biodiesel Coalition Of Texas (BCOT) who later convinced the TCEQ to give them a year to fix the NOx issue. The BCOT has shown proof from a study done by the Department of Energy�s National Renewable Energy Lab, that the NOx emissions from biodiesel are negligible. Unfortunately, the TCEQ is not budging and is set to confirm the ban in December.
This ban will force any biodiesel company and/or home brewer to pay for independent testing to show that their NOx emissions are low enough to meet the TxLED standards. Although this loophole will allow large biodiesel companies to sell to consumers, it will severely hurt the average home brewer who cannot afford expensive independent tests.
Another attack on home biodiesel brewers has come in the form of state and federal fines. According to the News Observer in a recent article, Bob Teixeira a fuel-it-yourself home brewer was fined $1000 by the state for not paying fuel taxes. He was also told that he should expect another $1000 fine from the federal government. Teixeira, like most people didn't realize that he was supposed to pay motor fuel tax on Biofuel that he made. Teixeira's only response was that he didn't like being lumped with people who purposely try to avoid fuel taxes. Needless to say, he will pay the fines and continue to use his biodiesel Mercedes Benz.
This just goes to show you that in the end, it is all about money and the government has to get their cut. To the fuel-it-yourselfer home brewers, my recommendation is to NOT sport a “powered by vegetable oil” bumper sticker; otherwise your fate may be similar to that of Bob Teixeira.