A recent article on Biodiesel Magazine’s website talks about the interaction between the truck-stop/travel plaza industry and the government in regards to the loss of subsidization for biodiesel. The National Association of Truck Stop Operators, NATSO, has sent a letter to several Congressmen, asking them to re-establish the subsidy for producing biodiesel that expired December 31, 2009. Three other groups joined NATSO in this effort: The National Association of Convenience Stores, the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, and the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. Lisa Mullings, the President of NATSO, claims that these groups are strongly “supporting U.S. environmental efforts.” Mullings says that, unfortunately, travel plazas are unable to make profits without this tax credit. Biodiesel production in the U.S. has dropped by 80% since the government dropped the credit in December. Since the government no longer provides biodiesel manufacturers with the $1/gallon credit, most of these manufacturers have simply added a dollar onto their price at the pump. Thos has led to a decrease in demand for biodiesel because most consumers do not want to pay an extra dollar per gallon when they could buy conventional diesel for less. If the subsidy were renewed, biodiesel production would once again be profitable.
While the truck stop industry is advocating for cleaner burning biofuels, a truck engine manufacturer, Cummins Inc., is now having to pay fines for some engines produced 4 to 12 years ago. According to Biodiesel Magazine, Cummins recently had to pay heavy fines because it failed to put proper emissions equipment on several of its engines produced in the 1998-2006 period. The settlement agreed upon was 2.1 million dollars. A total of 570,000 truck engines were sent to vehicle and equipment manufacturers without sufficient emissions control systems (which had been on the engines when the government tested them). These engines made by Cummins failed to meet the standards of the Clean Air Act. Some missing equipment included parts like diesel particulate filters and diesel oxidation catalysts. Cummins apparently expected the vehicle manufacturers to either make their own or purchase them separately.
On the flip side, a major car company, General Motors, is working together with the United States Department of Energy in an attempt to show that jatropha can produce sufficiently high yields of fuel to serve as a petroleum fuel alternative. Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute in India is starting two jatropha farms, one will be 39.5 acres in Bhavngar and the other a 93.9 acre plot in Kalol. This research institute is part of th Indian government and is lab-optimizing jatropha for fuel production. G.M. has a plant in Kalol and is supporting this research for their interests in the Indian car market; G.M.’s partnership with the Department of Energy in funding this project is largely due to their mutual interest in maximizing jatropha growth in temperate climates with frosts.