Biodiesel bust at Admiral Safeway, 7 years after pumped-up debut

February 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm | In Environment, Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

Almost exactly seven years ago, the Admiral Safeway gas station added biodiesel with pomp, circumstance, and even participation by then-Mayor Greg Nickels. It was the company’s first location in the nation to offer the part-vegetable-oil fuel mix. Now, the alternative fuel has been dropped. We found out from WSB reader Jay F, a biodiesel user, and checked with regional Safeway spokesperson Sara Osborne, who confirmed it via e-mail late today, explaining: “Simply stated, there was no longer enough demand to justify the investment..” That leaves the Propel Fuels mini-station at 35th/Barton, which offers B20 and B50, and Hans VW at 35th/Graham, which offers B100. (WSB photo from February 2007 – check those prices!)


  1. Wow, sure would take those gas prices over today’s! Then again, I’d take 2007′s POTUS over today’s, too. Remember when gas prices were all the press would talk about?

    Comment by Pete — 6:15 pm February 10, 2014 #

  2. I’m not up on the various types of diesel. So, will Safeway be selling diesel, just not bio diesel?

    Comment by Meg — 6:39 pm February 10, 2014 #

  3. Maybe there’s no market for it because everyone who really cares knows that gas/diesel/electric cars all do the same damage to the environment?

    Comment by Nobody — 6:47 pm February 10, 2014 #

  4. How do electric cars do the same damage to the environment as gasoline vehicles?

    Comment by Chris — 6:57 pm February 10, 2014 #

  5. Pete,

    Gas prices were low in 2007 due to the lousy economy crimping demand, thus lower prices.

    Comment by Robert — 7:06 pm February 10, 2014 #

  6. Pete, that brings back a wave of nostalgia … for some reason we drove around every Sunday night in WSB’s first years, compiling a report on gas prices. Then it just didn’t seem to matter any more …

    Comment by WSB — 7:06 pm February 10, 2014 #

  7. Well, Chris, how about the fact that the vast majority of electricity in this nation comes from coal? Oh! You counter that our electricity comes from glorious-endless hydropower! Well, how about the forests starved of nutrients due to lack of salmon carcasses? Who about the loss of livelihood for fishermen and native tribes? The fact is, all cars are equally destructive, be they gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid. The notion of an “environmentally friendly” car is a LIE perpetuated by the auto industry and fake “environmentalists” who think they can have their cake and eat it too.

    Comment by Nobody — 7:21 pm February 10, 2014 #

  8. Chris, the monitary cost and enviromental controls needed to dispose of the batteries from electric and hybrid cars raise the “carbon footprint” of these types of vehicles 10 fold over the “footprint” of a Hum-V for the entire life of the vehicle.
    The batteries are an ecological disaster on wheels if the car is in an accident and the battery casing cracks and the lithium or nickle-camdium leaks out and into a stream or other water source. Not to mention the cost of the clean up if it’s just on the street.
    Electric/Hybrid cars are not the panicia of the green movement, not matter what they tell you.

    Comment by Ex-Westwood Resident — 7:27 pm February 10, 2014 #

  9. Oil went from a range of $20-$30/bbl (at the peak of an economic bubble) in 2000-2001 to a peak of over $140/bbl in jun 2008. Bush was POTUS the whole time. Obama had only clinched the Dem nomination in jun 2008 at the peak.

    In 2007 we were only just approaching the peak in oil prices so they weren’t low due to the economic collapse yet. There was a lot of stress in the economy in 2007, but Bernanke’s first rate cut didn’t happen until Sep 2007 (and he was lambasted for causing a panic by overreacting), Bear Stearns collapsed in March 2008, Lehman didn’t implode until Sep 2008.

    Comment by Lamont — 7:42 pm February 10, 2014 #

  10. And the real problem with biodiesel is that it competes with the food supply. If we all converted to biodiesel grown from staple foods then the prices would spike and the third world would go hungry (and this was happening in 2007/2008, although the food price spikes probably had a lot more to do with the overall commodities bubble that was underway). If we could make biodiesel from waste and not upset the supply/demand of foodstuffs it would make more sense (the promise of cellulosic ethanol — which we all made fun of George Bush in 2006 because he mentioned ‘switchgrass’ a bit out of left field in the state of the union — but its still vaporware of course).

    EDIT: There’s also a second-order problem with biofuels competing with food products over arable land and reducing the supply of food products. Producing Biodiesel from algae would be a solution to that which would obviously not compete with land-based farming. Also, still vaporware, though.

    Comment by Lamont — 7:51 pm February 10, 2014 #

  11. And one last point is that we have to decarbonize the electrical grid. The consequences of 700+ ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere is going to be much worse than the harm done by dams to salmon runs. The cost of disposal of the lithium batteries will also be less. There is no perfect solution, but business as usual with carbon emissions is by far the worst solution.

    Comment by Lamont — 8:01 pm February 10, 2014 #

  12. the monitary cost and enviromental controls needed to dispose of the batteries from electric and hybrid cars raise the “carbon footprint” of these types of vehicles 10 fold over the “footprint” of a Hum-V for the entire life of the vehicle.
    Considering that that claim was made by a marketing firm using some fairly questionable methods, that’s debatable.
    Manufacturing a hybrid is more resource intensive than manufacturing a conventional car of similar size, true. But research done since CNW’s report came out shows that the resource requirements are lower overall for hybrids and smaller cars than for SUVs and Hummers over the lifecycle of the vehicle.
    And Hummers use nickel, too.
    No car is good for the environment. Arguing about whether the Hummer or the Prius is worse strikes me as analogous to arguing which cigarette will give you lung cancer quickest.

    Comment by datamuse — 8:33 pm February 10, 2014 #

  13. guess maybe people might not think of it as west seattle, but there is seaport biofuels also. by the shell station on 1st ave south, just a bit down the road from nickelsville.

    Comment by rob — 8:52 pm February 10, 2014 #

  14. @Meg I filled my car up with diesel at the Chevron in Admiral a couple weeks ago. You can use your Safeway card there now (don’t know when they started that, and don’t know if its for any fuel or just Diesel). Anyway, made me wonder if that meant Safeway was going to drop diesel altogether.

    Comment by rob — 8:55 pm February 10, 2014 #

  15. Thanks, Rob. I looked up Seaport earlier but couldn’t tell whether it was open to the public or just a commercial/industrial fueling station. That is definitely WS – has “SW” in the address :)

    Comment by WSB — 9:04 pm February 10, 2014 #

  16. I wonder if Safeway will soon go out of biz; looks like they’re trying every way possible to cut costs

    Comment by Diane — 10:18 pm February 10, 2014 #

  17. Can someone confirm what type of biodiesel Safeway was selling? Was it B20 or B5? The PI and Times articles imply B20, but I swear the pumps said B5.

    Comment by redfoxx — 7:15 am February 11, 2014 #

  18. Lamont – advanced second-generation biofuels do not compete with the food supply. That was a mistake from the folks who were initially getting into the business. In Washington, biofuels producers are making biofuels from food waste, used cooking oil, wood biomass that’s left over from lumber yards, and many other waste products.

    Additionally, not biodiesel but related: municipal solid waste and/or waste from dairies are being processed into renewable natural gas.

    The key with biodiesel is using advanced fuels whose feedstocks come from waste products.

    Comment by Chris — 9:03 am February 11, 2014 #

  19. Every car uses batteries and, battery technology is getting better every day. So yes, it is kind of like arguing which cigarette will kill you faster.

    Yes, it’d be great if we could transition away from personal transport via cars. And there are a lot of awesome people working to solve that problem. We need better mass transit, better land use policies, and we also need better personal transportation options.

    A fleet of electric vehicles that run on distributed clean generation that also serve as storage capacity for that same generation is a vast improvement over the current paradigm. And a positive step forward toward progress for transportation and for climate solutions.

    Over 50% of Washington’s carbon emissions come from transportation – we must addresses this and increasing the penetration of electric vehicles is an acceptable path forward.

    One way to do that is with a clean fuels standard – for more on what a clean fuels standard would look like for Washington – see

    Comment by Chris — 9:23 am February 11, 2014 #

  20. I have a big problem with the line that biodiesel takes food from the table for a couple reasons. The first is because if this is true, why are we not also pointing a finger at the meat industry?, a much larger culprid. The other problem I
    have with statement is because it was started by the oil companies back in 2007 when they skewed the terms biodiesel and ethanol and converted the two names into ‘biofuels’. Lets quit doing their dirty work.

    Comment by mike — 6:10 pm February 11, 2014 #

  21. I have a problem with the line, “biodiesel takes food from the table” for a couple reasons. The first, because if this is true, we must also point a finger at the meat industry?, a much larger culprid. The other problem with statement is because it was started by the oil companies back in 2007 when they skewed the terms biodiesel and ethanol and converted the two names into ‘biofuels’. Lets quit doing their dirty work.

    Comment by mike — 6:12 pm February 11, 2014 #

  22. I hope Safeway is not going out of business; nice to have a less expensive market in the area. I shop there almost exclusively.

    Comment by G — 8:13 pm February 11, 2014 #

  23. Now that Chevron takes the Safeway discount and they sell diesel, I think there’s higher competition for higher grade diesel. Not that bio is bad diesel, but the quality of fuel at Safeway is subpar to that of Chevron/Shell across the street. It’s typically people who don’t know any different about the additives in fuels and how they work in newer engines. This 10% ethanol is crap and hurts most vehicles mechanically and also starves it of precious fuel mileage. You burn more fuel to ‘save’ fuel…huh, ya exactly, follow the corn lobby on that one!

    Comment by Mike — 1:28 am February 12, 2014 #

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