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U.S. EPA awards Santa Cruz County cooperative grant money for innovative biodiesel pilot project

Release Date: 5/24/2005
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has awarded a $75,000 grant to a group of business and government organizations in Santa Cruz, Calif. to fund an innovative pilot project to convert restaurant wastes into biodiesel fuel for area transit systems.

Biodiesel is a sustainable fuel source that reduces emissions of carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide and its use can improve air quality and help reduce dependency on limited energy resources and imports.

The grant – in the form of an EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Innovation Pilot – went to Ecology Action of Santa Cruz, which has teamed up with city of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transportation District and the Santa Cruz Chapter of the California Restaurant Association. The project also includes a waste vegetable oil collector and Pacific Biofuel, Inc. a biodiesel producer and supplier.

Restaurants generate large amounts of waste vegetable oil which can be readily converted into biodiesel fuel suitable for all diesel vehicles. The biodiesel fuel produced by the project will be distributed and sold to local public sector fleets such as Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transportation District.

The group also plans to use the EPA grant to demonstrate the economic viability of a community-based biodiesel collection, production and distribution chain using locally-generated waste vegetable oil – something that can be productively recycled but is largely underutilized.

“We are excited to be simultaneously encouraging alternative fuel use, reduced air pollution, and increased diversion of wastes from landfills,” said Jeff Scott, director of the Waste Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “We hope this community-based project will be a model ultimately replicated across the country.”

The EPA’s innovative pilot grants provide money to test new ideas and strategies for environmental protection to make the agency’s programs more efficient, effective and user-friendly. These creative projects test approaches to waste minimization, energy recovery, recycling, land revitalization, and homeland security that can be replicated across various sectors, industries, communities, and regions.

The pilot grants for 2005 total $445,449 distributed to eight grant recipients in seven states across the nation.

For more information on the program go to: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/iwg.htm