January 16, 2006

Biodiesel task force makes interim report to Sask government

A progress report by a Biodiesel Development Task Force, presented to Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Wartman says it is clear that the area of renewable fuels represents a huge opportunity for the province.

"Saskatchewan is a natural home for Canada's future biodiesel industry," said Darin Egert, who co-chairs the task force. "Oilseeds are an important ingredient in biodiesel production and we have half of the nation's canola acreage.

"However," he cautioned, "we really need a national plan for renewable fuels to be put in place and we need it soon. There is a real chance that our competitors will grab this opportunity before we do."

Judie Dyck, the group's other co-chair, noted that the U.S. has already announced plans to produce 7.5 billion gallons of biofuel by 2012, while the European Union has set a target for 5.75% biofuel by 2010.

Both have adopted national strategies and standards for the development of a renewable fuel industry - a lead Egert said Canada needs to follow.

"Renewable fuels provide a way for Canada to fight climate change, protect the environment and secure a long term solution for problems in the agriculture industry by helping our farmers become producers of energy as well as

producers of food," Dyck said. "We can't afford to let this opportunity slip by."

The task force has been asked to recommend ways for Saskatchewan to take advantage of the growing market for biodiesel. In the absence of a national strategy and standards for renewable fuel, it has focused its work on research.

The group has commissioned a provincial cost-benefit analysis of biodiesel production to help establish the best way to grow the industry and has consulted with industry stakeholders on next steps. The task force expects to put forward a series of recommendations to government by spring 2006.

In the meantime, Agriculture and Food Minister Wartman said he intends to discuss a national renewable fuel development strategy and standards with Ottawa immediately following the federal election.

More information is available from Judie Dyck of the Biodiesel Development Task Force, 306/221- 6954.

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