Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre says that I owe him one and if it is just one, that is not too bad. I know the interest will pile up very quickly. He is a tough guy to deal with, Mr. Speaker, and you know that.
It is very apropos to have this bill before us today. Many of us enjoyed the camaraderie at the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association event last night in room 200, and everyone had a great time. It is a tremendous organization. This bill is the genesis of a lot of work it has done with the government to build the biofuels industry in Canada.
We are playing a bit of catch-up. The Americans and other countries like Brazil and so forth are light years ahead of us in getting this done. We are happy to work with them to make that happen, to get us an industry that will help us to start to meet our greenhouse gas commitments, which we are taking on globally.
This was a joint work piece between Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and my department at Agriculture Canada. Farmers will play a huge role in the way we will roll this out.
The amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act are starting a job that will lead our nation and perhaps the world into an era of greater environmental sustainability. Currently the act provides authority for the regulation of sellers, producers and importers of fuel.
The proposed amendments in Bill C-33 will provide the additional authorities needed to make efficient national regulations requiring renewable fuel content in Canadian fuel. The authorities we are seeking include: the authority to regulate at point of fuel blending; authority to track exports; and exemption for small volume producers and importers. This is another example of how our government is taking concrete action to promote biofuels production in Canada, acting as a catalyst to an industry that is going to have wide sweeping benefits.
As the Prime Minister has said, the domestic and global appetite for more environmentally friendly sources of energy is growing by the day. Canada is and will remain an energy superpower. We rank fifth in the world in total energy production, which is amazing. We are America's largest supplier of oil, natural gas, electricity and uranium. With the government's actions today, we are on our way to becoming a clean energy superpower adding biofuels to that list.
In December 2006, the government began to move Canada toward smarter consumption by announcing our intention to require a 5% average renewable content in gasoline by 2010. We also signalled our objective to develop a similar requirement of 2% renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012.
Meeting these requirements will make a real difference for the Canadian environment and overall the globe. Reaching these targets will be the equivalent of taking almost one million cars off our highways. That is substantive. Close to three billion litres of renewable fuels will be needed annually to meet the requirements of these new regulations. It is a very substantive start.
Canadian production in 2007 was about one billion litres, so the expansion will represent tremendous economic opportunity for Canada's 61,000 grain and oilseeds producers, and they welcome the challenge.
With the transportation sector accounting for more than one-quarter of Canada's greenhouse gas outputs, increasing the renewable fuel content in gasoline will put a huge dent in emissions.
The health and well-being of Canadians depends on the quality of both our environment and our economy. They do go hand in hand.
The government has announced $200 million in funding for the ecoagricultural biofuels capital initiative designed to encourage agriculture producer investment in biofuels production facilities and that is through my department.
We have recently announced the first two contribution agreements under this program for a new biodiesel plant in Alberta and an ethanol plant in Saskatchewan, which I had the pleasure to attend the opening. It happens to be in my riding. It is at Unity, Saskatchewan. It is a component of the North West Terminal, a privately owned farmer producer owned terminal, which is now expanding into the ethanol industry. I welcome its tremendous input in designing a lot of what we are doing.
The gentlemen on the ground there, chaired by Gerald Rewerts and Merv Slater, Bill Fraser and Jason Skinner, the manager of the facility and his dad, Jim Skinner, the chair of the board, put together a lot of ideas and worked with us to develop a lot of regulatory positions and so on that would help them. I give them a tremendous amount of credit for taking the time to educate us in the real world of ethanol and biofuel capacities. They have done a tremendous job.
We expect to sign several more agreements with other plants, with farmer participation, in the very near future.
As well, we have invested $20 million in the biofuels opportunities for producers initiative, or BOPI as everybody knows it. This initiative provides assistance to biofuels related projects across Canada with farmer representation in it. About 120 have applied for these funds. It helps them design their business plans.
This will help reinvigorate rural Canada, and we know so well that rural communities often find themselves isolated. They have higher transportation costs. Everything costs more to get there. Changing over to biofuels will help our environment. It will also help these people feel like they are tied back into mainstream Canada.
Producers will be able to contract with and ship to a processor in the nearest town rather than halfway around the world. That will save energy as well.
These new plants are great news for our farmers, providing a new market for their wheat, corn, canola and potentially other crops as we start to design high starch products, higher oil commodities to give us a broader range of feed stocks. It is all good news.
All of this presents an exciting new market for Canadian farmers. Biofuels production is helping farmers grow their businesses while creating new jobs, especially in rural communities. Biofuels offer economic benefits to farmers and communities by providing an alternate local market for their production of grains and oilseeds.
We will continue to feed the world and supply energy too. There is a lot of discussion out there that we have to do one or the other, but we cannot do both. We have the capability, with our modern agricultural techniques and our climbing yields per acre. They have been increasing for decades. This is part of the problem that our grains and oilseeds sector faced over the last number of years. They got too darned efficient. They got too good at what they did. They are looking for another stream of production to work their products into. This is the answer to the questions they have asked.
We have no problem keeping up with the demand for our supply of safe, secure quality food we produce on our farms, but we can also supply that energy market and have the expertise to market both commodities as well as supply the domestic demand. I know my producers are up to that job, and I know yours in Manitoba are too, Mr. Speaker. They are looking forward to that challenge. They are that efficient.
Looking beyond grain and oilseed based fuels, the government understands that biofuel technologies are evolving every day, and that is a fact. We have had some great work done at the University of Saskatchewan. We have had other universities and private sector initiatives working on facilities as well, and the sky is the limit. These folks are moving well ahead.
We have invested $500 million in new technology that will take waste products such as wheat straw and wood chips and turn them into valuable commodities to create cleaner burning renewable fuels.
We have also seen a lot of work done on methane recapture. We have seen a tremendous amount of work being done on biodigesters. We are seeing slaughter facilities that are able to take the parts and pieces of cattle, the SRM, specific risk materials, and work them in such a way that they are generating a diesel product out of that type of commodity.
I have had discussions with the McCain folks in Brandon, a large facility. They slaughter some 1,300 hogs an hour. They are taking a lot of the waste products and running them into biodigesters. They have a line that will start to turn biodiesel out of that end of the facility as well. It is all good news.
We are taking that product out of the landfills. We are taking it out of the environmental concerns by turning it into biodiesel and bioethanol products. It is just a tremendous opportunity to move ahead.
In July Prime Minister Harper announced an investment of $1.5 billion over nine years—