Environmental group cries “fowl” over biodiesel event

Biodiesel not a “feel-good, hippie fuel”

Washington, DC– The National Biodiesel Board offered Congressional members and staff free French fries today, but the group’s touting of used cooking oil misrepresents the real-world reality of biodiesel production.  Environmentalists and their animal ‘friends’ attended the event to share information about the strong links between biodiesel and deforestation.

“Biodiesel is not a feel-good, hippie fuel. Rather than Willie Nelson’s tour bus, the more accurate representation of biodiesel is a tropical rainforest which has just been bulldozed and cleared for an industrial-scale soy or palm plantation,” said Rose Garr of Mighty Earth.

The large majority of biodiesel is produced from virgin vegetable oils, not used cooking oil. And even recycled and “waste” oils and fats may not have the climate benefits long assumed.  Recent research show as that these oils and fats can be used in animal feed and consumer care products, and diverting them to fuel production drives demand for replacements and expands the global vegetable oil market. The cheapest replacement is often palm oil, which is a major driver of deforestation in Southeast Asia.

“We’re offering to buy that used fryer oil, take it off the Biodiesel Board’s hands, and give it to a Maryland farmer to use as feed. Continuing to ramp up biodiesel production and grow demand for vegetable oils around the globe will contribute to deforestation,” Garr added.

In 2017, significant quantities of biodiesel imports were imported from Argentina and Indonesia, two countries experiencing high levels of deforestation for agricultural production.