Biofuelwatch Sounds Alarm on Sudden Pivot to Soy-based Diesel in California Refinery Sector

The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a high profile, extremely complex and poorly understood markets-based mechanism implemented by California state authorities as an foundational element of the state’s vaunted climate portfolio. The stated objective of the LCFS is to gradually reduce the ‘carbon intensity’ of liquid fuels used in the state, largely for transportation, through a variety of technical practices, as well as promoting through financial incentives the broader use of biofuels.

The substantial subsidies for biofuel production currently available to producers has combined with the recent collapse in traditional energy markets such as petroleum to cause significant convulsions in the California fuel refining sector. One recent development that is setting off alarms is the announcement by Big Oil giant Phillips 66 of the conversion of their north San Francisco Bay refinery in Rodeo to the largest ‘renewable diesel’ manufacturing facility on the planet. Phillips 66 claims that they will switch from refining crude petroleum to manufacturing ‘renewable’ diesel and aviation fuels, primarily from soy oils.

In August Biofuelwatch took the opportunity of offering comment (Biofuelwatch_20-IERP-20Transportation) on the 2020 update of the Integrated Energy Planning Report by the California Energy Commission to offer a stark warning about the severe social and environmental limits of biofuels, and the threats to communities from energy market convulsions.

Ongoing Biofuelwatch research on the LCFS has prompted our organization to sound an alarm more broadly about the dangers of the mechanism perpetuating reliance on petroleum-based liquid fuels while using the fake green spin of biofuels to confuse the public about the harsh climate, ecological and social realities of biofuel feedstock production, processing and manufacturing.

Biofuelwatch joined in late August with a coalition of environmental, grassroots and climate justice organizations active on refinery issues in the San Francisco Bay Area to respond to the “abrupt revelation” of the Phillips 66 refinery conversion to biofuels. They highlighted the dramatic development as “another example of what will likely happen in an unmanaged transition off of fossil fuels.” Phillips 66 made the announcement about the refinery conversion without any advanced warning to Contra Costa County decision makers, and without community involvement.

In the coalition response Gary Hughes from Biofuelwatch stated “The false promises of biofuels are being leveraged by Phillips 66 to hide their ambition to stay locked in on fossil fuel energy far into the future. Our organization stands with the residents and working people throughout the North Bay refinery corridor that are organizing for a just transition and demanding an end to the treatment of their communities as sacrifice zones.”

Stay tuned for more news on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in California and the global push for aviation biofuels.

Read the Biofuelwatch letter to the California Energy Commission here: Biofuelwatch_20-IERP-20Transportation

Visit the Phillips 66 website for the public relations spin on their plans to convert their Rodeo refinery to soy-based diesel and aviation fuels.