Leave it to the folks on the East side. At Central Washington Biodiesel’s Ellensburg plant, customers now have a choice: they can fill up using Northwest-grown canola oil-based biodiesel, or they can pick the pump labeled “regular” biodiesel. Either way, they can be sure their petroleum-free fuel isn’t contributing to rainforest destruction. Central Washington Biodiesel guarantees that all of the fuel it sells comes from North American-grown sources— a question that’s been the source of some debate on the West side of the Cascade divide with the impending opening of Imperium’s biodiesel plant in Grays Harbor.
Central Washington Biodiesel CEO Steve Verhey says using as much locally produced oil as possible has been part of his company’s business plan from the beginning. (They opened up shop about eight months ago.) He says the separate pumps are about connecting customers to the local stuff.
“It’s an opportunity to educate people that locally grown and produced biodiesel is available," Verhey says. "If Washington state’s biodiesel industry is really going to be successful, there’s going to have to be branding that identifies Washington-produced product as premium product.”
Plus, be you a light green, a dark green, or a weekend green, at least you know what you're getting.
Those who choose NW grown biodiesel do so at a premium, $3.75 per gallon compared with $3.29 for the “regular” variety. But price hasn’t been a deterrent so far, Verhey says. “Our first customer this week [a guy from the Seattle area] chose the NW Grown. The price didn’t particularly faze him.”