Participants of the California Biodiesel Consumers' Conference
came from all over California, Colorado, and the east coast. On
the first day, attendees were brought up to speed on issues
concerning biodiesel (i.e., 100% biodiesel), and ideas were
brainstormed. On day two, the focus was on concrete steps to
create an infrastructure and community base for widespread
biodiesel use. It was generally agreed that there should be
an association of biodiesel producers and users, to be called
the Biodiesel Council of California
but that excess structure and organization should be avoided.
The ideal scenario, it was said, would be for the public to
pull up to pumps and have a choice between biodiesel and
"dinodiesel." The conference participants also want biodiesel
used in city utilities.
The many short-term goals that were discussed included lobbying the
National Biodiesel Board, which currently discriminates against
small biodiesel producers; working with the Sierra Club, the
Green Party, and Greenpeace; facilitating and encouraging school
buses to be run on biodiesel (to this end, involvement with
Parents, Teachers, and Students Associations would be helpful);
and in the more immediate term, children can be educated with
presentations. One participant, who has given such presentations,
noted that even rowdy kids become transfixed when biodiesel is
"I thought it was exhilarating and positive to see the work
that's been going on," remarked Nicole Cousino of Chula Vista, a
participant who co-produced the 1994 film Fat
of the Land. "There's a lot of smart people that are
actively engaged in trying to ensure the viability of small-scale
biodiesel use, production, and distribution. Those that are
really committed to this are really well-read and familiar with
quality issues, emissions, EPA [Environmental Protection Agency]
regulations, and so forth."
She continued: "A lot of the debate was: 'Is it better to work
alone, or is it better to work as a group? In my own opinion, it
seems like it would be important to have some kind of association
[with] members that were working on trying to ensure access to
better quality control testing, that were developing
relationships with the EPA, and that I could participate within
that as a small-scale producer without having to do all of that
work on my own."
Devin O'Keane, a biodiesel producer, consumer, and advocate from
Chico, California, remarked: "I thought it was really exciting
that we got to meet people from around the country who are doing
the same kinds of things that we're doing here. It was an
excellent networking session, where everyone got to place the
names with the faces. We had been communicating with each other
for some time, but we never met. . . . I thought it was a really
solid introduction to the movement. We're starting to see the
formation of a legitimate organization."
"I learned quite a bit more about the emissions," said Ian
Miller of San Diego, who runs the
(see http://auto.groups.yahoo.com/group/socalbiodiesel or search
"socalbiodiesel" at Yahoo Groups), "especially as it
compares to some of the other so-called alternative fuels like
natural gas. I learned a lot about the EPA guidelines and a lot
of the certifications."
Members of the media were present, but Nicole Cousino is
concerned that too much attention could be placed on one project,
a biodiesel Hummer. "To me [the biodiesel Hummer] suggests:
'We can have our cake and eat it, too. We can still be these
gross consumers, but kind of calm our guilt by using biodiesel.'
How much friggin' biodiesel is it going to take to run one of
those things, and why the hell are people driving them anyway?
How much labor and energy goes into producing one of those
things? This is just what I think personally."
She added: "Ninety-nine percent of the people [who were] at the
conference are really about doing local production because
[they're] using resources from their local community; because
they're not paying for a lot of transportation fees or use of
energy to transport fuel, it stays local; and they have a close
connection with their customer base: their community. So it
really works in this more holistic fashion, which is great.
[Biodiesel activists] really are backing up what it means to do
During the conference, an inaugural meeting for newly-formed
council was planned for Northern California on March 14. Albeit,
the community's attention has since shifted to a new regulation that
will severely restrict biodiesel use in California. "There's an
organization called ASTM (American Society of Testing and
Measurement)," said Kalib Kersh, a biodiesel educator. "It's
largely made up of scientists and engineers who decide what the
specifications for different things are, including what is diesel
and what is biodiesel. When ASTM made the specification for
biodiesel as fuel, for whatever reasons, they called it a 'blend
stock.' Now, California Weights and Measures, heeding the
recommendations of Chevron and the Western States Petroleum
Association, and ignoring comments of the National Biodiesel
Board and many, many users of 100% biodiesel in their vehicles,
are saying that the engine manufacturers and Chevron don't agree
that 100% biodiesel should be used as a fuel because they claim
the engines aren't designed for it, which is simply untrue.
There's tons of evidence that shows that biodiesel is a better
fuel, too. It's lower in all categories of emissions except for
NOx. That makes it a much greener, healthier fuel in terms of
emissions, even relative to a so-called 'green' fuel like CNG
(Compressed Natural Gas). As far as lubricity, biodiesel is much
better than diesel for engines."
At the time of this writing, there was no clear consensus for
what the public can do to help this situation. However, the
subject is being discussed at:
(forums.biodieselnow.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2110(. Also, please
watch this site for future announcements.