Canadian groups laud passage of biofuels law

29 May 2008 15:47  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Officials from Canada’s biofuels, agricultural and other sectors on Thursday broadly welcomed parliament’s vote to legislate for 5% ethanol content in gasoline by 2010.


The bill passed on Wednesday evening despite increasing doubts in Canada and elsewhere about corn-based ethanol production.


Passage of the biofuels bill, which also calls for 2% biodiesel blending by 2012, was a critical development for next-generation biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, said Jeff Passmore, CEO of Ottawa-based cellulosic ethanol firm Iogen.


Greenfield Ethanol, Canada’s largest ethanol producer, said the law was necessary amid predictions of oil prices remaining at around the $130/bbl mark and tight gasoline supplies.


"The House of Commons has shown leadership and vision in voting in a biofuels mandate that will help mitigate prices at the pump while also reducing harmful greenhouse gases and air pollution," said Greenfield CEO Bob Gallant.


General Motors Canada also welcomed the vote.


Biofuels provided significant greenhouse gas reduction benefits, said David Paterson, vice-president of GM Canada’s corporate and environmental affairs, and pointed to the company’s fleet of ethanol-compatible vehicles.


There had been some doubt if Canada’s Conservative minority government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper would be able to muster enough support in parliament for a federal biofuels requirement, which had been first announced in 2006.


Opposition lawmakers and critics pointed to concerns about the use of food crops to make biofuels, the current food supply crisis and increasing doubts about biofuels targets and policies in the US, the UK, Germany and other countries.


The opposition Bloc Quebecois and the National Democratic Party opposed the bill while the Liberals, by far the largest of the opposition parties, supported it.


The Green Party of Canada, which has no representation in the federal parliament, said it could not support any non-cellulosic ethanol, not even as a stop-gap solution, due its impact on food prices and supplies. 


It urged the country's federal and provincial goverments to reconsider their biofuels policies.


Canada has 16 ethanol plants - either built or under construction - with an overall annual capacity of about 1.6bn litres, according to the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, a Toronto-based industry group.


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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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