Washington, DC [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] More than 30 experts, alternative energy leaders, and industry representatives attended a biofuels conference convened by the Senate Energy Committee last week in Washington, DC.At the conference, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pointed out that homegrown fuel sources can reduce America’s overdependence on fossil fuels using Seattle-based Imperium Renewables as an example. President of Imperium Renewables John Plaza announced that the company is beginning to use Washington state-grown canola to produce one million gallons of their biodiesel. Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy and Finance Committees, hailed the move as a sign that the region has the potential to grow and refine a significant portion of the fuel it uses within Washington state’s boundaries. “Producing large amounts of fuel in Washington state from Washington state crops is a sign that our growing biofuels industry has truly taken off,” said Cantwell. “This is evidence that there’s real demand, real opportunities for Washington farmers in energy independence. Growing more crops we can turn into biofuels is good news for our state.” Imperium Renewables has been working for the last 18 months to find ways to produce all of its biodiesel from locally produced canola. Canola, which grows well in the Northwest and requires little water, performs better and at lower temperatures than fuel made from many other feedstocks, meaning it has great potential as a fuel source. In May 2006, Cantwell joined officials from the Port of Grays Harbor and Imperium Renewables to announce plans to build a $40 million, 540,000 square foot biodiesel facility on land owned by the Port of Grays Harbor. Full-scale construction began in October 2006 after Cantwell and Dicks toured the facility, which will produce up to 100 million gallons of biodiesel annually.