Manitoba Tories pledge to pump up biofuel content

(Dave Bedard photo)

Manitoba’s incumbent Progressive Conservatives have pledged to boost provincial mandates for biofuel content in gasoline and diesel two weeks ahead of a provincial election.

The Tories, whom recent polls favour for re-election on Sept. 10, included the pledge Tuesday in a campaign announcement specifically aimed at the province’s farmers.

The party noted its biofuel promise comes from recommendations made to the Manitoba government in June by its Climate and Green Plan Expert Advisory Council.

The party on Tuesday promised to increase the ethanol blending requirement in gasoline sold in Manitoba to 10 per cent, and the biodiesel requirement to five per cent in diesel, in 2020.

Manitoba’s biofuel mandates today require minimum renewable content of two per cent by volume in diesel fuel sold in the province, and 8.5 per cent ethanol in gasoline, which according to the advisory council is already the highest ethanol blending requirement in Canada.

Boosting the biodiesel mandate, the Tories said, is expected to increase the province’s market demand for biodiesel from 27 million litres per year to 72 million, and ethanol consumption to 176 million litres per year, up 26 million.

“These fuels will be based on agricultural products such as corn or canola, grown right here in Manitoba,” the party said.

The Canola Council of Canada hailed the pledge in a separate release Tuesday, saying a mandate for higher-biodiesel blends “reduces greenhouse gas emissions, promotes value added processing of canola and creates a larger domestic market for canola that is free from international trade actions.”

“This announcement is welcome and timely given the current market access challenges facing our industry,” council president Jim Everson said, a reference to China’s current boycott of Canadian canola seed.

“This step will position Manitoba as a national leader on issues related to the environment, as well as diversifying markets for Canadian crops,” Delaney Ross Burtnack, executive director for the Manitoba Canola Growers Association, said Tuesday in a separate release.

The province’s expert advisory council in June had said Manitoba “should work toward the adoption of biofuel mandates for the various transportation subsectors at the highest percentages technically feasible for implementation.”

Increased ethanol and biodiesel mandates, made to the levels announce Tuesday, would reduce emissions by 175,000 and 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent respectively over the 2018-2022 period, the advisory council said in its report.

The advisory council had also called for a mandate of 10 per cent biodiesel content for marked (“purple”) diesel, which is used mainly in the ag sector.

That recommendation, though not mentioned in Tuesday’s campaign announcement, would reduce emissions by another 200,000 tonnes over 2018-22, the council said.

The Tories’ campaign announcement on Tuesday called also for an additional $50 million for the province’s Growing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) trust fund, earnings from which provide incentives to landowners who agree to conserve wetlands and other “natural” areas on their farms. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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