Every December, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) organizes the Big Apple Biodiesel Tour, inviting soybean farmers from across the country to New York City. Tour guests have the chance to visit biodiesel end-user facilities, fleet managers, and key industry stakeholders such as New York City Fleet, the Department of Transportation, and the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey. NBB farmers learn how biodiesel, produced from soybeans grown in the
United States, is used to power NYC vehicles, municipal buildings, and operations, supporting
the City’s local economy and ensuring energy security.
Big Apple Biodiesel Tour at the NYC Department of Transportation. Source: Empire Clean Cities, December 2019.
Farmers and industry partners who attend the Big Apple Biodiesel Tour, including local farmers from New York State, get the unique opportunity to see how their crops and products are being used as a vehicle fuel and heating oil in one of the largest cities in the world. In 2018, New York State harvested approximately 320,000 acres of soybeans with a yield of 52.5 bushels per acre. In addition to partnering with the National Biodiesel Board, Empire Clean Cities also works closely New York Corn and Soybean Grower’s Association (NYCSGA), a grassroots organization representing corn and soybean producers’ interests in New York State, to educate consumers and businesses on the environmental and local economic benefits of using biodiesel and soy-based products. Approximately 90 percent of biodiesel fuel in the U.S. comes from soybean oils. Biodiesel is a domestically produced, renewable fuel that can be manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease. It is a cleaner burning drop-in fuel replacement for petroleum diesel. Biodiesel is an easy to use alternative fuel because it does not require any engine or vehicle modifications in order to be used. Biodiesel is most commonly available as B20 (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent regular diesel) or B100 (100 percent biodiesel) blend and can be used for all diesel fuel engines from passenger cards to Class 8 heavy-duty trucks, as well as a heating oil for buildings.
New York City is one of the most important biodiesel markets in the country, using the fuel in both the city’s buildings as heating oil and in over 11,000 of its fleet vehicles. In 2018, New York City Fleet, the largest in the country, used approximately 15 million gallons of different biodiesel blends with conventional diesel in public fleet vehicles, and approximately 2.25 million gallons of pure B100 (Figure 1). New York City used an additional 35 million gallons of biodiesel for municipal building heating oil with Bioheat (National Biodiesel Board, “NYC Biodiesel feat. Keith Kerman.” September 4, 2019).
Figure 1. NYC Biofuel Use Is Up Every Year (in gallons of B100). Source: New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services, “Fleet Services.” January 2020.
In 2019, New York City fully implemented a B5 Bioheat mandate and will use over 40 million gallons of B100 in the buildings sector. The mandate will raise to B20 in 2034, using 160 million gallons of B100. New York City Fleet used 3 million gallons of B100 and may use up to 13 million gallons of B100 in 2020 to help the City reach its sustainability goals. Biodiesel use in New York City contributes to cleaner local air quality and greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the transportation and buildings sectors.
New York City looks forward to the Big Apple Biodiesel Tour every year with the vision to continue increasing sustainable, renewable fuel use in New York City. This tour maintains the connection between the growers, producers, and consumers of this renewable, domestically produced source in contrast to the stark detachment between producers and consumers of conventional petroleum-based fuels. For more information about biodiesel in New York State, visit empirecleancities.org/biodiesel.
Read why 2020 is the year of biodiesel here.