The National Biodiesel Board today joined Imperium Renewables in officially opening the company's second facility and ushering it into a growing biodiesel industry. The new Imperium plant, near Grays Harbor, Wash., has an annual capacity of 100 million gallons. That makes it the largest biodiesel plant currently operating in the nation.

"The opening of this plant is a valuable addition to America's biodiesel industry," said Manning Feraci, NBB vice president of federal affairs. "The U.S. biodiesel industry is committed to enhancing America's energy independence by replacing foreign oil with environmentally friendly, domestically produced renewable fuels. Imperium's plant will further our industry's objectives in this regard, and will add valuable refining capacity to our nation's fuel supply."

Dignitaries who attended the grand opening included U.S. Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Representative Norm Dicks, D-Wash.

"The launch of Grays Harbor represents a coming of age for the biodiesel industry," said John Plaza, founder and president of Imperium Renewables. "This facility has the scale and the systems to produce fuel comparable to petroleum diesel that meets ASTM standards. The difference is that our fuel has far less impact on our environment than fossil fuels and is made from renewable resources."

The plant opening comes at a time of unprecedented plant launches. There are now 148 operating plants throughout the U.S. The average plant size is currently about 9.5 million gallons per year. Among plants under construction, average capacity will be about 19 million gallons per year.

Biodiesel production promotes economic development. A recent study showed that the industry will create almost 40,000 jobs and add $24 billion to the overall U.S. economy between now and 2015.

"As America's demand for renewable energy has increased, the industry has responded," Feraci said. Domestic biodiesel production increased from 25 million gallons in 2004 to more than 250 million gallons in 2006, and is expected to exceed 300 million gallons in 2007.

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from any vegetable oil or animal fat, and can be blended with diesel fuel, usually at a blend of 20 percent (B20) or lower. Biodiesel significantly reduces emissions, including carbon monoxide, particulate matter and life cycle carbon dioxide. It is one of the best greenhouse gas mitigation strategies available with today's vehicle technology.

The NBB is the national not-for-profit trade association representing the biodiesel industry as the coordinating body for advocacy, research and development in the United States.