BIODIESEL - STILL ALIVE AND KICKING DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS

By Yvonne Sweeney

An article that has been reprinted on several alternate energy websites seems to indicate that biodiesel is about to be banned in Texas. The article claims the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is pulling the plug on biodiesel to protect air quality in the lone star state. The commission reportedly faulted biodiesel manufacturers for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and ground level ozone.
Texas is the country’s second biggest producer of biodiesel and it is about to become an ever bigger producer –state air quality threat notwithstanding. Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported that a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has given the biodiesel industry another year to prove it can meet the new air quality standards.
While some producers claim this extension merely keeps them in limbo, others are going full speed ahead with plant expansions. Some of these companies say if Texas decides to go ahead with a ban in 2008, they will market their fuel in other states. A consortium of Houston Biodiesel, LLC, and TexCom Resources broke ground last week on a new plant in the Bayport Industrial Complex. The plant is expected to produce 35 million gallons of B100 biodiesel annually by next December.
Another company, GeoGreen Fuels, plans to build as many as 10 biodiesel plants across Texas in the next three years.
Right now, Texas produces nearly 100 million gallons of biodiesel a year and the question still remains whether or not this alternative fuel actually increases NOx emissions. Lab tests show conflicting results. The testing is ongoing. For now, Texas’ environmental regulators say they need more research before they can rule whether biodiesel actually meets that state’s recently enacted standards.
Nationally, at least 78 companies are building or expanding biodiesel facilities and production capacity is expected to reach nearly two billion gallons a year in the near future.