California clears final hurdle for underground storage of biodiesel blends

The state of California in the US has approved the storage of biodiesel blends of up to 20% (B20) in underground storage tanks, removing the final barrier to ensuring the state has access to sufficient volumes of the biofuel.

The campaign began over 10 years ago, with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), several member companies and the California Advanced Biofuels Alliance providing necessary data to the State Water Board to prove that B20 is compatible for storage in underground tanks.

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of NBB, said that the amended regulation ‘fulfils a high priority industry objective to allow double-walled UST [underground storage tank] owners and operators that wish to store B20 to comply with regulations’.

"This is a major victory towards biodiesel's mainstream integration into the California fuel supply," Rehagen said. "We recognise the huge potential for biodiesel to supply California with a better and cleaner fuel and applaud state regulators for working closely with us to clear this final hurdle that will allow for more low-carbon biodiesel to make its way to the consumers and fleets all across the state."

The use of biodiesel is key to meeting California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The California Air Resources Board claims that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gases by at least 50%, and up to as much as 81%, compared to petroleum.

The California State Water Resources Board amended California Underground Storage Tank Regulations on 6 August. The new regulations state that diesel containing up to a 20% blend of biodiesel (meeting the ASTM standard for B20, D7467) “shall be recognised as equivalent to diesel for the purpose of complying with existing approval requirements for double-walled USTs, unless any material or component of the UST system has been determined to not be compatible with B20."

A previous version of the regulation required tank owners to prove that every component of the tank was compatible. The updated regulation will enter into effect from 1 October 2019.

"This change in regulations represents a huge milestone for consumers in California, who will now have increased access to B20 in a state where protecting the environment is greatly valued," said Tyson Keever of SeQuential and Crimson Renewable Energy, who is also chair of the California Advanced Biofuels Alliance. "Our company is driven to make a positive impact on reducing carbon emissions, to stimulate local economies, and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and this new regulation will amplify our ability to do all three."

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