Biodiesel in the Big Apple

In December 2022, the Clean Fuels Alliance America (Clean Fuels) hosted its 12th annual New York City Big Apple Tour. As a member of Clean Fuels, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) sent a team of directors along to learn more about the biodiesel industry.

“This is my first time attending the Big Apple Tour and the best chance I’ve had to see what the biodiesel industry is all about,” MSR&PC Director Gene Stoel said. “It’s a great opportunity to get more involved and see the different challenges the industry is facing.”

There’s no denying the importance that biodiesel and Bioheat have on the soybean industry, and New York City is one of the biggest proponents of biodiesel. Incorporating the use of biodiesel in 2000 when the total market was only 5 million gallons, NYC continues to support the industry by using biodiesel and Bioheat fuel as well as introducing renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. 

Kicking off the tour at the FDNY EMS Training Academy at Fort Totten, the group listened to multiple industry updates from Clean Fuels staff and industry partners Paul Nazzaro, President of Nazzaro Group, LLC and Michael Devine, President of National Oilheat Research Alliance. Later that afternoon, attendees had the privilege of touring the FDNY Training Academy monikered “The Rock” because it is considered one of the toughest courses in the world.

Earlier in the week, the Big Apple Tour ventured to New Jersey to visit Groundwork Elizabeth. Since 2003, Groundwork Elizabeth has championed on behalf of their community to strive for environmental justice. A mere 11 square miles, Elizabeth, N.J., is home to almost 140,000 people equaling about 12,000 people per square mile, leaving little room for green space such as trees and gardens.

Clean Fuels began working with Groundwork Elizabeth when the EPA had environmental justice grants available. Because biodiesel isn’t well represented in the environmental justice sphere, Clean Fuels was seeking opportunities to get it recognized. After talking to about a dozen environmental organizations, Groundwork Elizabeth was the only one who was interested in incorporating biodiesel in their program.

“I want to thank these folks for having an open mind,” said Clean Fuels Director of State Government Affairs Floyd Vergara, who worked with Groundwork Elizabeth to successfully submit the EPA grant.

Most of us can’t imagine growing up in a place where the stars don’t shine at night but for almost 30,000 kids in the city of Elizabeth, N.J. that’s the reality. Children growing up in Elizabeth didn’t know where their food came from and had little opportunity to explore the agriculture industry. Today, 40 schools in Elizabeth have gardens thanks to Groundwork Elizabeth’s dedication.

“We have provided access to agriculture for 30,000 kids,” said Groundwork Elizabeth Director of Urban Agriculture, Jackie Park Albaum.

A special guest made his way to Groundwork Elizabeth’s micro farm to visit with the Clean Fuels group. Mayor Chris Bollwage has served as Elizabeth’s mayor since 1992 and is a steadfast supporter of Groundwork Elizabeth’s mission.

“I never thought I’d be meeting with soybean farmers in New Jersey in December,” said Mayor Bollwage said.

Later that day, the group met at IMTT – Bayonne, which is the third busiest container port in the U.S. IMTT owns a portfolio of high-quality bulk liquid storage facilities with 15 U.S. locations and 2 Canadian locations. IMTT – Bayonne began storing biodiesel in 2006 with only 2 storage tanks, 1 ship berth and 2 barge berths dedicated to biodiesel. Now, there are 15 biodiesel storage tanks, 5 ship berths and 15 barge berths. By next year, IMTT – Bayonne will be connected to 1/3 of the nation’s renewable diesel.

The Clean Fuels Big Apple Tour concluded on Wednesday morning with a presentation from Deputy Commission Keith Kerman, who is the Chief Fleet Officer for the city of New York and concluding remarks from Clean Fuels staff.

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