New Rule Considered By California Board Would Boost Renewable Diesel

If a current proposal by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for marine vessels is approved, all harbor vessels, supply boats, fishing vessels, ferries, excursion vessels, tugboats, barges and dredges in California will be required to use either 99 percent or 100 percent renewable diesel.

According to a November 18 report by transportation fuel consulting firm Stillwater Associates, the requirement does not come from the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, California’s carbon-credit program. Instead, it comes from a little-noticed submittal to the state’s Office of Administrative law, titled “Section 2299.5. Low Sulfur Fuel Requirements, Emission Limits and Other Requirements for Commercial Harbor Craft.”

“Flying under the radar,” as Stillwater puts it, the regulatory implementation “will require usage of [renewable diesel] in the marine industry” to meet the timetable of emissions goals. Marine vessels were already required to switch to Tier 2 or Tier 3 vessels beginning in 2009. Indeed, on January 1, 2023, renewable diesel as R99 (99 percent renewable) or R100 (100 percent renewable) will be required for commercial harbor craft (CHC) in California,”provided the Office of Administrative Law approves the resubmittal package from CARB.The Stillwater report (reflecting the regulation itself) is somewhat contradictory on whether or not record-keeping will be required. “Importantly, this amendment to the CHC will replace the ULSD requirement with the requirement to use R100 or R99 for CHC fuel beginning January 1, 2023. According to CARB staff, there are no record-keeping requirements associated with this requirement although if there is unavailability of R100 or R99 for fueling, documentation demonstrating the unavailability is required.” 

R100 or R99 are both widely available in California and represent about 37 percent of California’s diesel fuel usage.

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

Stillwater estimates the new regulations could boost demand for renewable diesel by 55 million gallons of fuel a year.