CCA board member Bruce Melgar is the CEO of a visionary company called UrbanX Renewables. UrbanX is pioneering the large-scale production of renewable diesel fuel from 100% recycled non-petroleum sources. This fuel meets California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standards (LCFS), another product of our state’s landmark climate change mitigation legislation. The Coalition for Clean Air and other advocacy groups have worked tirelessly to get stringent, enforceable standards adopted, and a revised LCFS went into effect at the beginning of this year. The LCFS now includes specific provisions for fostering investment in new low-carbon fuels.
The UrbanX story is a remarkable example of a successful collaboration between business, regulators, and advocates, for the benefit of local communities and the environment. Thanks to the LCFS, refineries now have a mandate to produce more low-carbon fuels. The California Energy Commission provided UrbanX with a $5 million grant to develop biofuel in California. That grant turned into a contract that will become the largest biofuel refinery on the West Coast! It is estimated that this will lead to more than 100 new “green” jobs for Southeast Los Angeles County.
UrbanX Renewables will produce a “drop-in” fuel (one that requires no vehicle engine modifications, or new pipeline or storage facilities) made mostly from recycled grease from food service businesses and institutions. It will support well-paid, locally hired green jobs, retraining skilled refinery workers in working with this new product. One gallon of renewable diesel can reduce both greenhouse gas emissions by 76 to 92 percent and smog-forming NOx emissions by 10 percent when compared to a gallon of petroleum diesel.
UrbanX is working to identify and retrofit a retired refinery in North Long Beach, and is targeting the second half of 2017 for its fuel to hit the market. UrbanX plans to make it available at its own facility and at fueling stations throughout California.
The Coalition for Clean Air and our grassroots allies have been trying to level the economic playing field for low carbon fuels to help great ideas like UrbanX’s come to fruition. Melgar, who joined our board in September 2015, is an industry leader making the connection that business and the environment don’t have to be in opposition. In June 2015, Bruce Melgar and UrbanX Renewables Group received the Environmental Conservator of the Year award from the US Small Business Administration.
If California continues to push for good environmental policies, look for many more stories like Urban X to come.