NBB Cites Biodiesel Benefits of RFS

The comment period has officially ended for the final 2014 and 2015 final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule as set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The National Biodiesel Board submitted comments but has a different take on how to keep the legislation moving forward and successful.

Biodiesel at the pumpBiodiesel falls under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuels category. The EPA proposal, which is slated to be finalized in November, would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion gallons in 2016.

NBB wrote in their comments, “The growth and expansion of the U.S. biodiesel industry in recent years represents a tremendous success story under the RFS. Today, nearly 2 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel displace an equivalent amount of petroleum diesel. This has resulted in significant reductions in pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact across the nation.”

“The industry now has production plants in nearly every state in the country making fuel from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks, including recycled cooking oil, plant oils such as soybean oil, and animal fats,” the comments state. “In short, the biomass‐based diesel program has exceeded expectations and is achieving the goals that Congress outlined in creating the RFS. As a result, it warrants additional volume growth to meet the objectives of Congress in expanding renewable fuel use in the diesel market and in promoting advanced biofuels under the program.

NBB’s comments follow a letter from 36 U.S. senators last week calling for increased biodiesel volumes, and add to thousands of comments submitted by biodiesel supporters to the EPA in recent weeks. The comment period on the EPA’s pending proposal closed at midnight Monday.

“The EPA’s proposal is an improvement over its initial draft, but the agency can and should do much better,” said Anne Steckel, NBB vice president of federal affairs. “We have presented credible, compelling reasons for increasing biodiesel use under the RFS, and we hope the EPA carefully reviews our comments and those of thousands of other biodiesel supporters who have weighed in.”

Hope for Renewable Energy Tax Credits

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a two-year extension of tax benefits, including the production tax credit for wind power, and credits for biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels production.

wyden-hatch“This markup will give the Committee a timely opportunity to act on extending a number of expired provisions in the tax code that help families, individuals and small businesses,” Hatch said. “This is the first time in 20 years where a new Congress has started with extenders legislation having already expired, and given that these provisions are meant to be incentives, we need to advance a package as soon as possible.”

“The tax code should work for, not against, Americans,” Wyden said. “We need to extend these tax provisions now in order to provide greater certainty and predictability for middle class families and businesses alike. However as we look beyond next week, it’s critical we all recognize and take action to end this stop and go approach to tax policy through extenders.”

A group of biofuel trade organizations have sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) encouraging extension of the critical advanced biofuel tax incentives. The incentives include the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. Groups supporting the extensions are the Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

EPA Hearing Turnout to Show #RFSWorks

The public hearing in Kansas City, Kansas last week on EPA’s proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard was a who’s who of the biofuels industry and then some.

epa-hearing-panelA total of 254 people on 43 panels testified in two different rooms for about seven and a half hours. It was over twice as many people who testified at a public hearing in Arlington, Virginia in December 2013 on EPA’s first proposed RVO for 2014 that was ultimately withdrawn.

The vast majority of those testifying at the hearing were biofuels supporters, less than a dozen represented the oil industry or others opposed to increasing use of biofuels. Ethanol and biodiesel producers, corn growers, agribusiness interests and fuel retailers from across the nation testified, in addition to several state lawmakers, two governors and their agriculture secretaries.

The very first panel consisted of representatives from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Soybean Association, National Farmers Union, National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

RFA senior vice president Geoff Cooper urged the agency to implement the statute as Congress intended and abandon its blend wall methodology in setting the 2014–2016 renewable volume obligations.

“We continue to believe EPA is overstepping the bounds of its legal authority by proposing to partially waive the RFS based on perceived distribution capacity constraints,” Cooper said. “Nothing in the statute allows EPA to set the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) based on the so-called ‘blend wall’ or alleged infrastructure limitations. Congress considered measures that would have allowed waivers based on distribution infrastructure. But they rejected those concepts because they knew allowing such off-ramps would allow oil companies to hold the RFS program hostage.”

Listen to Cooper and others on the first panel here: EPA RFS Hearing panel 1

EPA RFS Public Hearing photo album

Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing is sponsored by
Coverage of EPA RFS Hearing sponsored by RFA

Biodiesel Supports to Testify at EPA Hearing

In addition to corn farmers and ethanol producers, EPA officials will also hear from the biodiesel industry at the public hearing Thursday on the agency’s latest proposal establishing volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nBBAccording to the National Biodiesel Board, about two dozen biodiesel representatives from across the country are slated to testify at the hearing to thank the EPA for increasing volumes in the latest proposal while calling for further growth in the final rule set to be released in November.

Bob Morton, co-owner of Newport Biodiesel in Rhode Island and a member of the National Biodiesel Board’s governing board, planned to highlight biodiesel’s success as an Advanced Biofuel under the RFS and to emphasize biodiesel’s potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the RFS.

“We appreciate that EPA has improved the numbers and that the volumes increase with time; however, the volumes remain well below what the industry can produce and they are far from an aggressive approach to expanding biodiesel production and thereby significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Morton says in his prepared testimony. “There is little we can do regarding 2014 and 2015, but we can take a more aggressive stance in 2016 and 2017.”

NBB Vice Chairman Ron Marr, director of government affairs at Minnesota Soybean Processors, planned to emphasize the industry’s strong potential for growth with the right policy.

“Our message to EPA is simple,” Marr says in his prepared testimony. “The biodiesel industry has, can and will deliver on the goals of the RFS, particularly those for Advanced Biofuels. We are poised to expand production and continue building this industry with the right policy signals, but we need stronger biodiesel and Advanced Biofuels volumes in the final rule to make that happen.”

Biodiesel Producers on Capitol Hill

nbb-dc-15Nearly 120 biodiesel industry leaders from California to Florida are in Washington DC this week calling on lawmakers to push for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the comment period for the recently released proposal from EPA.

“We want to show Congress that the RFS is working and that thousands of jobs are at stake in this pending EPA rule,” said Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs. “We want lawmakers to see first-hand how these issues are playing out in their states and districts. The RFS is not some political football. It’s a successful policy that’s driving innovation, creating jobs and building competition in the fuels markets.”

The EPA recently released its draft RFS proposal that provides modest growth for biodiesel over several years. The proposal would increase the Biomass-based Diesel sector of the RFS by about 100 million gallons per year to 1.9 billion gallons in 2017.

“The proposal is a step in the right direction, and we appreciate the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and grow the RFS,” Steckel said. “However, there is plenty of room for improvement before it is finalized in November. We intend to make sure policy makers in Washington understand biodiesel’s full potential to help grow the economy and strengthen our energy security while sharply reducing pollution.”

Biodiesel Industry Good with New EPA Proposal

The biodiesel industry is relatively pleased with the announcement today from EPA setting volume requirements for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nBBNational Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe voiced “measured support” for the proposal while calling for improvements in the final rule.

“It is not perfect, but it will get the U.S. biodiesel industry growing again and put people back to work,” said Jobe. “However, more can be done, and we particularly look forward to working with the administration on strengthening biodiesel volumes for 2016 and 2017 during the comment period in the coming weeks.”

Biodiesel falls under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is a subset of the overall Advanced Biofuels category. The EPA proposal, which is slated to be finalized in November, would gradually raise biodiesel volumes by about 100 million gallons per year to a standard of 1.9 billion gallons in 2017. Because of biodiesel’s higher energy content, this would count as 2.95 billion ethanol equivalent gallons under the RFS. The overall Advanced Biofuel standard would rise to 3.4 billion ethanol equivalent gallons in 2016. NBB had requested more aggressive growth to a biodiesel standard of 2.7 billion gallons by 2017, along with additional growth in the overall Advanced Biofuel category.

US Coachways Major Biodiesel Foundation Funder

us-coach-greenA major motorcoach company has topped $10,000 in donations to the National Biodiesel Foundation, making US Coachways the single largest donor outside the biodiesel industry to date.

“This donation total to date is a landmark amount, and we are exceedingly grateful for US Coachways’ continued commitment to biodiesel research and outreach,” said John Heisdorffer, Foundation president. “On behalf of the researchers, students, instructors, mechanics and others that benefit from the foundation, we thank this company for its continued generous support.”

Headquartered in Staten Island, New York, US Coachways is a family owned and operated bus and limousine charter company that has made regular monthly contributions to the foundation since 2012. “More people travel by bus than by any other mode of transportation,” said CEO Ed Telmany. “We contribute because we want to see the motorcoach industry become cleaner and more sustainable, and we’d also like to encourage other companies to put their commitment to sustainability into action by making donations to this foundation.”

Telmany said the contributions also show their customers that the company is motivated to help the transportation industry improve air quality.

Biodiesel Board Ad Campaign Showcases Success

nBBA new ad campaign from the National Biodiesel Board is showcasing the success of the green fuel from coast to coast. The “Biodiesel is Getting Us Where We Need to Go” campaign celebrates biodiesel’s benefits that touch cities and towns, fields and farms, water and air.

“Biodiesel shows that forward-looking energy initiatives work to promote new ideas and innovation that deliver results,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “We have a lot to be proud of and want to showcase to leaders in Washington and around the nation the environmental, economic, and energy benefits biodiesel brings right to their communities.”

The 30 second commercial will air on national television networks, as well as on select local broadcast outlets and cable news programs throughout the summer.

The digital campaign includes banner advertising and a 15 second version of the television commercial presented as a pre-roll to programming on news platforms and as openers to videos on YouTube. Radio and print focused on target areas will round out the comprehensive campaign, anchored by a re-launched website (www.americasadvancedbiofuel.com) that provides videos featuring how biodiesel is making a difference in from coast to coast.

The campaign complements NBB’s efforts to support biodiesel growth through the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and is funded by the United Soybean Board, State Soybean Checkoff Boards, U.S. Canola Association, and the National Biodiesel Board.

Biodiesel Part of ‘Round-the-World Boat Race

NBBvolvo1Boats stopping over in North America for an around-the-world race are refueling with biodiesel. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says the fuel used for the Volvo Ocean 65 race boats that sailed into Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, is made from recycled cooking oil.

As a supporting sponsor of the May 5-17 stopover, the NBB is providing biodiesel blends for the race boats and for all of the diesel generators and land vehicles associated with the shoreside operations — helping the event to obtain certification by Sailors for the Sea as a “Platinum Level” Clean Regatta.

“Biodiesel stakeholders are excited to take part in this much-anticipated international regatta,” said Paul Nazzaro, NBB program manager. “It seems fitting that America’s first advanced biofuel will be featured at the U.S. leg of the race, where sustainability is such a prominent theme. Our entire team looks forward to sharing the many benefits of biodiesel over the course of this extraordinary event.”

“We’re in a ‘chicken or egg’ situation where boaters can’t readily purchase biodiesel because it’s not typically supplied by marinas, and the marinas don’t dedicate tanks to biodiesel because they aren’t sure if there will be sufficient demand” said Nazzaro. “We hope Volvo’s show of confidence in biodiesel to help power such a high profile event will help address this conundrum by educating consumers and raising demand.”

NBB points out that biodiesel blends can be used in many types of marine vessel, including inland and ocean-going commercial ships, research vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard Fleet, and recreational vessels.

Senators Show Support for Biodiesel Industry

durbin-heidiSenator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) led a number of her Democratic colleagues in calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the continued delays of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule and highlighted the impact that the uncertainty of the past two years has had on biodiesel industry.

“We stand together as Democratic Senators who care about this industry, care about energy independence, care about farm country, and care about the diversity of our energy sources to plead with the President of the United States to participate in this discussion,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “If you really are serious about a diverse energy mix, why do what we’re doing to the biodiesel industry?”

Joining Sen. Heitkamp were Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Al Franken (D-MN), as well as biodiesel producers, who also stressed how the uncertainty caused by EPA’s misguided 2013 rule and delays on farmers and biodiesel workers.

adm-biodieselKent Engelbrecht, the manager of the biodiesel division at ADM, which has a biodiesel plant in Velva, North Dakota and is headquartered in Illinois, as well as Todd Ellis, vice president at Imperium Renewables near Seattle, Washington, discussed how the delays have impacted their own operations and others.

“2014 was poised to be a breakout year for biodiesel, until the 2014 RVO proposal intervened,” said Engelbrecht. “With the subsequent expiration of the biodiesel tax credit, we were forced to cease or slow production at all of our facilities.”

Listen to or download audio here: Comments from Senators and Biodiesel Industry on RFS Delays

The senators’ press conference was held as word came out Thursday that EPA has sent its new RFS volume obligation proposal, which is due to be released on June 1, on to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel thanked the senators for their support and was optimistic about news that EPA may be getting the RFS back on track. “What’s most important, however, is that we see volume growth in this pending proposal,” said Steckel. “The Obama Administration says regularly that it supports renewable fuels and wants America to lead, particularly in the development of Advanced Biofuels like biodiesel. This proposal will show if that’s true. The proof will be in the numbers.”