Biodiesel conference topics include standards, grassroots efforts

| 2/8/2007

A national conference of biodiesel producers and marketers concluded this week with an emphasis on fuel standards.

The National Biodiesel Conference, Feb. 4-7 in San Antonio, featured 40 seminars, 300 trade exhibitors and more than 3,800 attendees.

Attendees heard about renewable fuels, production, marketing strategies, energy legislation, 2007 emissions standards, new product rollouts, fuel blending, and the difference between myths and facts about biodiesel.

The National Biodiesel Board, the official trade association and coordinating body for research and development, sponsored the event.

Keynote seminars, according to the board, were a discussion on biodiesel quality and a grassroots guide to effecting legislation.

“At a time of astonishing growth in the biodiesel industry, fuel quality has never been so critical,” National Biodiesel Board officials said in a statement.

Fuel experts and guest speakers encouraged attendees to go through the accreditation process known as the BQ-9000.

The BQ-9000 accreditation program is currently voluntary, but the producers and marketers hope to change that.

“Being involved in the program and being accredited helps to ensure that you’re going to meet the (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for biofuel,” board spokeswoman Amber Pearson told Land Line.

“We talked about making politics work in your favor and how to reach out on a grass-roots level,” Pearson said.

This year was the fourth annual biodiesel conference. Last year’s attendance was 2,400, compared with 3,800 this year.

“Certainly the growth of our conference was parallel to the growth of our industry,” Pearson said.

There are currently 105 plants producing biodiesel in the U.S. and about 75 that are either in development or undergoing construction, Pearson said.

Other highlights of the conference:

  • A trade show featuring 300 exhibiters;
  • Environmental discussions that included actor Larry Hagman;
  • Three days of live broadcasting by Bill Mack on XM Satellite Radio; and
  • Keynote speakers Mary Matalin, a former aide to President Bush; and her husband, James Carville, who is active in the Democratic Party.

– By David Tanner, staff writer