Slight Biodiesel Growth in Proposed 2018 #RFS Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the 2018 rules under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) today and only called for a slight growth in biodiesel volumes. As a result, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is calling on the Obama Administration to strengthen the proposal that only calls for a 100 million gallon increase in 2018. RVO requirements for the advanced biofuels category of the RFS are on a different schedule than other renewable fuel categories, and today the EPA also released its 2017 RVOs for renewable fuels such as ethanol.

nBBNBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said that without stronger growth in the final rule, the administration would be missing an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions while helping to reshape America’s transportation sector. “We appreciate the EPA’s timeliness in releasing these volumes and its support for growing biodiesel use under the RFS, but this proposal significantly understates the amount of biodiesel this industry can sustainably deliver to the market. The total RVO for the advanced biofuels category that includes biodiesel is 2.1 billion gallons for 2018.” Steckel added, “We have plenty of feedstock and production capacity to exceed 2.5 billion gallons today, and can certainly do so in 2018.”

Biodiesel – made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats – is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. The EPA proposal would establish a 2.1-billion-gallon Biomass-based Diesel requirement in 2018, up from the 2-billion-gallon requirement for 2017. However, NBB believes EPA can comfortably call for at least 2.5 billion gallons in 2018 after nearly 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel were delivered under the RFS in 2015.

“We have made tremendous progress in cleaning up vehicle emissions but the fact remains that petroleum still accounts for about 90 percent of our transportation fuel,” Steckel continued. “This is dangerous and unsustainable, and the RFS is the most effective policy we have for changing it. Biodiesel specifically is the most successful Advanced Biofuel under the RFS. It is proving that Advanced Biofuels work. But we need meaningful RFS growth to continue making a real dent in our oil dependence and to continue driving investment. On the heels of the Paris climate accord, this is not the time for a piecemeal approach. We need bold action.”

In addition to calling for a higher Biomass-based Diesel volume, NBB is calling for a stronger overall Advanced Biofuel volume.

Scientists Confirm #Biodiesel Provides CO2 Reduction

A report from the Coordinating Research Council, (CRC) adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates biodiesel’s role as a low carbon fuel. Two of the report’s key conclusions find that carbon emissions from biofuels are declining relative to petroleum, and confidence in these results continue to grow as more research is released. According to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), in 2015 U.S. biodiesel use lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 18 million tons or the equivalent CO2 emissions of removing 3.8 million cars from the roads.

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

“When it comes to quantifying carbon benefits, biofuels have been the most heavily scrutinized products in the world market,” said Don Scott, director of sustainability with the NBB. “This heavy scrutiny and improving analysis provide confidence that biodiesel provides significant benefits over fossil fuels.”

CRC members include companies such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, American Petroleum Institute (API) and others, and conducts environmental and engineering research related to automotive and petroleum use. In addition, CRC hosts workshops to discuss lifecycle analysis of biofuels. According to NBB, these workshops include a heavy emphasis on indirect land use change (ILUC). NBB notes that ILUC was once thought to be a detriment to the net carbon benefit of biofuel policies, but this is proving to be incorrect. To examine ILUC more closely, CRC has called on experts in economic modeling and lifecycle analysis including experts with the EPA, U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, European Commission, environmental advocacy groups, and leading academic institutions from Europe and North America.

“Whether and how indirect land use change can be accounted for has always been controversial. With continued improvements to the science behind it; there is clear consensus that it does not override the carbon benefit of renewable fuels,” said Jan Lewandrowski economist for USDA’s Climate Change Program. “The scientific community’s efforts to improve the data quality and reduce uncertainty within economic modeling shows that the agricultural sector can provide powerful tools to reduce carbon emissions while providing food and fuel to the world. Additionally, regions with renewable natural resources can experience sizable economic benefits by making wise investments in agriculture.”

The growing body of research supporting this conclusion, cites NBB, includes analysis published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, USEPA, USDA and the California Air Resources Board. Each of these institutions has affirmed that U.S. biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by at least 50 percent and often as much as 85 percent compared to petroleum diesel fuel.

EPA Honors Biodiesel Leaders

Two long-time biodiesel leaders have been honored by the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) for their commitment to the environment – Harvard University Fleet Management Division and Medford Township Public Schools in Medford, NJ. Joe Biluck, Medford’s director of operations and technology, and David E. Harris Jr., Harvard’s director transit and fleet management, are the champions behind their fleets’ switch to biodiesel.

Biluck and Harris also serve as volunteer Biodiesel Ambassadors by educating other fleets on the benefits of biodiesel and how it can help achieve environmental benefits such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollution.

National-Biodiesel-Board-Logo“These EPA Awards shine a spotlight on the environmental leadership that we have seen at Harvard and in Medford in their mission to replace petroleum with cleaner-burning biodiesel,” said Ron Marr, chairman of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “NBB is proud to work with both Dave Harris and Joe Biluck, and their leadership and vision is helping to improve environmental quality and lower emissions through the use of America’s Advanced Biofuel.”

EPA’s Region 2 presented Medford with the 2016 Environmental Champion Award at a ceremony in New York City. The award honors Medford’s outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health. According to NBB, Medford’s leadership in the use of biodiesel alone has eliminated 123,376 pounds of smog-forming emissions, 2,408 pounds of diesel particulate matter and reduced its fleet operation costs by over $170,000. In 1997, Medford was the first school district in the country to use biodiesel. Today, it is the nation’s longest continuous user of biodiesel in a student transportation fleet.

EPA’s New England office honored Harvard University’s Fleet Management Division with the 2016 Environmental Merit Award on May 10 at a ceremony in Boston, Ma. NBB nominated Harvard for this award, which recognizes the University’s exceptional work and commitment to the environment. In 2004, Harvard was the first Ivy League school to power its diesel vehicles with cleaner burning biodiesel and since then its biodiesel program has grown. In the past year alone, Harvard’s biodiesel use resulted in the following estimated emissions reductions: 15 percent reduction in carbon dioxide; 12 percent reduction in carbon monoxide; 20 percent reduction in both hydrocarbon and sulfur dioxide and 12 percent reduction in particulate matter.

Long-Term Biodiesel Tax Incentive Bill Introduced

U.S. Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) have introduced legislation to extend the biodiesel tax incentive through 2019 and modify the program to become a domestic production credit. The $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit has been lapsed and reinstated multiple times. It is scheduled to expire yet again on December 31, 2016. This bill would extend the incentive three years while also changing its focus to support domestically produced biodiesel.

National-Biodiesel-Board-Logo“While oil tax breaks remain permanently written into the tax code, the biodiesel tax incentive is yet again set to expire in less than eight months,” said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel in response to the introduction of the bill. “This is no way to do business. Biodiesel producers need stable, predictable tax policy to continue to grow and hire. We want to thank Reps. Noem and Pascrell for taking the lead on this issue to create that stability and spur economic activity.”

According to NBB, foreign biodiesel imported to the U.S. and then blended with petroleum diesel is eligible for the tax incentive. As a result, more foreign biodiesel producers are taking advantage of the tax credit by shipping their biodiesel to the states. Today imported biodiesel makes up nearly a third of the U.S. market, around 670 million gallons.

“In addition to extending the incentive, this bill includes an important reform ensuring that this tax incentive is directed toward domestically produced biodiesel,” added Steckel. “This would not only reduce the cost of the tax incentive to the Treasury, but it would level the playing field for American producers who are now competing against predatory imports that are getting subsidies in their country of origin only to be shipped to the U.S. to receive another incentive from American taxpayers. Incentivizing foreign biodiesel production was never the intent of this incentive, and Congress should reform it immediately.”

ASA-logoThe American Soybean Association (ASA) also commended Reps Noem and Pascrell for the introduction of the legislation. Also calling out the need for long-term policy to keep the industry strong, President and Delaware farmer Richard Wilkins also noted that uncertainty not only negatively affects industry investment, but hurts farmers.

“In a farm economy that is dealing with low crop prices, that uncertainty and added stress are things that farmers don’t need. In the challenging political environment of an election year, it may be easier for lawmakers to pull back from working together, even on common-sense legislation like this, which is what makes the leadership shown by Representatives Noem and Pascrell so commendable.” Wilkens concluded, “We appreciate their work on this issue and we urge Congress to support the extension and restructuring of the biodiesel tax credit.”

Merle was Biodiesel Supporter

merle-1Back in the early years of the biodiesel industry, Merle Haggard was one of the stars who came out in support of the American-made biofuel.

The country music legend who died last week at the age of 79 made a legendary appearance at the 2007 National Biodiesel Conference, holding a press conference and performing for those in attendance. During the press conference Merle said that he was learning about the benefits of biodiesel. When asked what attracted him to the renewable fuel source his answer was “the smell.” He also he was happy about how the development of biodiesel was helping American farmers.

Listen to the legend talk about biodiesel with NBB CEO Joe Jobe here: 2007 Biodiesel press conference with Merle Haggard

Check out the photo album from the 2007 biodiesel conference for more photos of Merle.

Groups Ask for Advanced Biofuel Tax Extension

As the advanced biofuel tax credits get closer to expiring, six biofuel trade associations have called on federal legislators to pass a multi-year extension of the credits. In 2015, through the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, several programs were extended including: the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit; the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property; the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit; the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit; and the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property. While these were extended through 2019, the advanced biofuels tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year.

The letter sent today to Senate and House leaders, the Senate Committee on Finance leaders and the House Ways and Means Committee leaders and was signed by The Advanced Biofuels Business Council, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.29.51 PMThe letter stated, “This short-term expiration of tax incentives is jeopardizing the long-term investment necessary for advanced biofuels. This creates uncertainty for investors and industry about the availability of these credits in the future. As leaders in a critical innovation sector in the United States, we are well aware of the financial constraints facing this country. However, as Congress works on developing energy tax extenders legislation, we urge you to ensure that advanced biofuels are part of the package. Extending some 2016 expiring energy tax provisions and not others creates a piecemeal approach and investment uncertainty across the energy sector and distorts the playing field for biofuel producers.”

Additional comments were made by each of the six organizations that signed the letter. These comments can be found below.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association said, “Short-term tax incentives are akin to new drivers in a stick shift vehicle. The cars haltingly lurch forward for a time, but suddenly stall. The advanced biofuel industry needs certainty if it is to remain commercially viable, as it continues to bring new facilities and technologies online. Longer term incentives would go a long way to making sure the industry continues its growth, and don’t leave consumers stalled along the way.” Continue reading

Work Trucks Favor #Biodiesel

nteaAccording to a new 2016 Fleet Purchasing Outlook study conducted by the According to a new 2016 Fleet Purchasing Outlook study conducted by the NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry – biodiesel is now the most commonly used alternative fuel option on the market.

Each December, NTEA conducts a comprehensive Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey to better understand the commercial vehicle landscape, including interest levels for advanced truck technologies and alternative fuels. The new survey results for 2016 show 18 percent of fleets use biodiesel now – up from 15 percent in 2015 – with more fleets planning to acquire or continue using biodiesel than any other alternative fuel option.

“The evolution of alternative fuel technologies is still triggering change for vocational truck specifications,” says Doyle Sumrall, Managing Director of NTEA. “However, general interest has dropped in recent years due to persistently low oil costs and will likely remain muted until prices rebound. Despite current challenges facing the alternative fuels movement, fleet interest in biodiesel has remained strong, actually increasing in 2016 as compared to the previous year.”

moline-biodieselThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) notes that the City of Moline in Illinois has operated its full fleet of over 102 diesel vehicles and equipment on B20, a 20 percent blend of biodiesel with ultra-low sulfur diesel, since 2006 which has helped the city enhance the performance and minimize the maintenance of its vehicles’ fuel systems at a lower cost than diesel fuel.

J.D. Schulte, Fleet Manager for the City of Moline, stated, “Here in Moline, air quality is paramount to our quality of life. We made the switch to clean, domestically produced plant-based biodiesel ten years ago, not only because it was a good choice for our fleet, but also because it was a good choice for our community. My advice to other fleet managers is, if you are conscious of and serious about air quality and looking for an easy and cost-effective solution to make a positive difference in your community, biodiesel is a natural choice.”

Biodiesel is the first and only commercial-scale fuel to meet the EPA’s definition as an Advanced Biofuel – meaning the EPA has determined that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel. In the Gross Vehicle Weight Class 5-8 vehicles that account for 92 percent of on-road diesel / biodiesel fuel use, nearly 90 percent of the medium- and heavy-duty truck OEMs support the use of B20 biodiesel blends.

Celebrate Biodiesel Day Today

9 things about biodieselToday is National Biodiesel Day and the celebration of Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine. Many will remember that similar to the first “gas” engine running on ethanol, the first “diesel” engine ran on peanut oil. In fact, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) notes that when he created his engine, he envisioned a time when vegetable oils would one day be as important as petroleum among transportation fuels. Because of his foresight, and his contribution of the compression ignition engine, Biodiesel Day is celebrated on the anniversary of Diesel’s birthday.

“I can’t imagine what Rudolf Diesel would think if he saw how his vision has come to fruition in today’s commercial biodiesel industry, a more than 2 billion gallon US market,” said NBB chairman Ron Marr. “It is here, now, cutting carbon emissions, supporting domestic green energy jobs, and benefiting consumers from coast to coast.”

To celebrate Biodiesel Day, here are nine facts about biodiesel that will rev you up! But first, a super cool video about biodiesel.

    Continue reading

Become a Next Generation Biodiesel Leader

Jesse Meyer, center, with former co-chairs Dan Browne and James Anderson

Jesse Meyer, center, with former co-chairs Dan Browne and James Anderson

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is calling for the next crop of biodiesel leaders to join the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. NGSB is seeking additional co-chairs to help take this student professional organization to the next level. Working with NBB staff, the volunteer co-chairs help establish direction, assist with planning educational content, recruitment efforts and producing webinars and other events. The co-chairs also review and rank scholarship applications to the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, and attend the event.

“The co-chair position has provided me with a unique opportunity to interface with the commercial biodiesel community,” said Jesse Mayer, a biochemistry student at the University of Nevada – Reno who attended this year’s conference. “You will network with top scientists and energy thought leaders while shaping our generation’s contributions to the bioenergy field. This opportunity is much more than a resume builder.”

To apply: You must be a college/university student in a scientific field of study, and have joined NGSB. Send an E-mail to NGSB@biodiesel.org with:

  • Your resume and contact information (include expected graduation date. We will prioritize applicants who can serve for two years or more.)
  • A 500 word summary of your experience with biodiesel, commitment to biodiesel, and why you want to be a co-chair.
  • A biodiesel-related photograph of yourself (optional).
  • Deadline to apply is April 1, 2016.

Want to get a feel of what participating in NGSB is like? Click here to read a few stories from student biodiesel leaders that came out of this year’s annual conference in Tampa, Fl.

Students Discuss Biodiesel Research Projects at #NBB16

Students who are part of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel had the opportunity to share their research during the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. The students all have one thing in common – their passion for the biodiesel industry.

nbb-16-thomas-kwanI spoke with several of these budding biodiesel leaders during the poster session. Thomas Kwan is a PhD candidate at Yale and is part of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering. While doing his undergraduate he looked at emissions from diesel fuel, particularly locomotives. He then leveraged this interest into looking not at the tailpipe, but the fuels themselves for emission reductions.

Thomas’s research is framed around an integrated biorefinery with algae as the foundation. In other words, the “plant” accepts some biomass and then produces biodiesel and other biobased products. Enabling technologies for the idea of an integrated biorefinery. Used micro algae that has high content for biodiesel lipids as well as other compounds, in particular, astaxanthin, a powerful antioxident. IN the case of algae, the bioproduct is not yet approved for human consumption but Thomas hopes this research will help change that. Ultimately, they looked at how to tweak the biorefinery to get more lipids for biodiesel, or to get more astaxanthin. To learn more, listen to my interview with Thomas Kwan here: Interview with Thomas Kwan

nbb16-eric-william

Clemson University Biosystems Engineering students Eric Monroe and William O’Connell, present their biodiesel research during the poster session.

William O’Connell is a senior at Clemson University in Biosystems Engineering. He became interested in biodiesel while doing his undergraduate research, and then attended the conference last year. He’s back and this year presented his research during the poster session.

The focus on the project is to reanalyze the school’s current process of collecting used cooking oil and converting it to biodiesel. William said they are looking to see if there is a more efficient way to produce the biofuel. What they have discovered is using interesterification is more efficient. To learn more, listen to my interview with William O’Connell here: Interview with William O'Connell

nbb-16-james-davisJames Davis is in his fourth year of his PhD at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has a keen interest in fatty acids of seed crops such as canola or camelina sativa. He explained that his research is focused on altering the lipid profile of camelina sativa.

The idea is to apply a cutting edge gene editing technology to knock out certain genes. Essentially, his goal is two-fold. One, to alter the fingerprint of the lipid profile and they are also trying to eradicate erucic acid, a semi-negative toxic lipid that is bad for livestock making camelina seed meal restricted for use in feeding livestock. James notes that if they can get rid of some of the negative profile, they can create a more high-value byproduct. To learn more, listen to my interview with James Davis here: Interview with William O'Connell

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album