Biodiesel policy is laser-focused right now on two primary issues – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the tax incentive – two policies that drive growth in the industry.
During an address to the membership at the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel said they should take credit in the success of getting higher volumes under the RFS. “The fact that biodiesel was able to achieve most of its policy goals while others did not…is something we should really be proud of,” said Steckel. “I am proud to say that a two billion gallon standard moving forward is a long way away from the original RFS that flat lined biodiesel at 1.28 billion gallons.”
Steckel noted that they will continue to work toward a producers tax credit. “We were successful in winning a two year extension (of the blenders tax credit) through the remainder of this year,” she said. “However Congress…stopped just short of converting the tax credit into a producers incentive.” She says the fight will continue.
Cindy Zimmerman also interviewed Anne about the 2015 biodiesel numbers that came out earlier this week and how they show the need for a producers tax credit as more biodiesel is being imported into this country to take advantage of the blenders credit.
From coast-to-coast B20 is now formally supported by nearly all vehicle manufacturers. Today more than 78 percent of the diesel vehicles coming off production lines are approved for use with B20, as noted during the annual Biodiesel Showcase that took place yesterday during the 13th Annual National Biodiesel Conference.
Some big examples of support include General Motors (GM), Hino and PACCAR along with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Among U.S. heavy-duty truck segments, which account for more than 87 percent of actual diesel fuel usage, every major engine manufacturer supports B20 in their new engines except for Daimler’s Detroit Diesel, which remains at B5.
Many users are realizing that B20 biodiesel blends offer them a cost-effective and seamless option to help meet increasingly aggressive greenhouse gas and carbon reduction goals. Energy continues to warrant focus on the worldwide stage as a primary way to reduce the effects of climate change and during this week’s conference, biodiesel role in this efforts were highlighted. The Biodiesel Showcase was one of the best visuals of the benefits of biodiesel and a demonstration that consumer choices for biodiesel play a strong role in influencing vehicle manufacturers to continue to increase their support of biodiesel.
Following are three brief videos about vehicles that are approved for the use of B20. You can get the scoop on PACCAR’s “bright yellow truck” by clicking here.
PACCAR was honored with this year’s Eye on Biodiesel “Initiative Award” for their commitment to #biodiesel blends. Giving remarks during the Biodiesel Showcase, Jason Johnson, director of aftermarket for PACCAR, announced that the new PACCAR MX-11 engine and all model years of its MX-13 engine, both legacy models and new equipment, are now approved for use with B20. More than 100,000 trucks, both new and old, join the biodiesel ranks and each year and these vehicles drive more than 12 billion miles. With this announcement, Johnson said there are now nearly 1 million Peterbilt and Kenworth medium and heavy duty trucks approved for use up to #B20 biodiesel blends.
Addressing an engaged and excited crowd, NBB CEO Joe Jobe said, “PACCAR’s support underlines that biodiesel is the single best carbon mitigation strategy out there; with widespread support across all diesel applications, we are perfectly positioned to deliver even more cleaner burning biodiesel into the marketplace. The U.S. biodiesel industry has invested over twenty years of research and development activity to provide the highest quality biodiesel fuel for the marketplace, and today we recognize PACCAR for taking the initiative to endorse B20 biodiesel blends for use in your equipment.”
Landon Sproull, PACCAR assistant vice president, said in a statement following the award announcement, “PACCAR is pleased to earn the Eye on Biodiesel Award while we are expanding PACCAR’s engine line of B20 compatible engines. Our new B20 compatible PACCAR MX-11 engine is available in Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks beginning in January 2016, joining our highly successful MX-13 engine. PACCAR designs and builds the most durable, fuel-efficient and highest quality heavy-duty truck engines in the world, and PACCAR engines perform well using a variety of fuel sources.”
“Increasing our support level from B5 to B20 biodiesel blends provides more choice and value to PACCAR’s customers,” Sproull added.
To learn more about PACCAR’s commitment to biodiesel and to learn more about the “bright yellow truck,” watch my video with Jason Johnson.
2016 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo Photo Album
The myth that biofuels is a choice between food versus fuel is still perpetuated regardless of scientific data showing otherwise. The true fact about biofuels, including biodiesel, is that they produce food AND fuel. #Biodiesel’s role in both providing food and fuel, as well as in reducing carbon, were the topics of a presentation by Don Scott with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) during the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference in Tampa, Florida.
Scott began his presentation by stating three things:
Biodiesel complements the fuel supply.
Solar energy is abundant and efficient.
Mitigating climate change does not cost. It pays.
Biodiesel, said Scott, produces protein as a byproduct, an essential source of nutrition for humans. However, protein is expensive. But because biodiesel production only uses the oils (fat), protein is produced at a lower cost than average protein sources on the market.
Based on this fact, Scott had a motto, per se, during his presentation: “When we grow protein to feed the world, we naturally get more carbs, fat, and other fiber byproducts than we can eat.” Therefore, he said, it makes sense to use this excess fat to displace petroleum, and biodiesel is the best example of nature’s design for food and fuel. And an added bonus, while today biodiesel represents about 20 percent of the renewable fuel market, it provides 40 percent of the carbon reductions as a result of using these renewable fuels.
National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe was the keynote speaker at the 10th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit this week, highlighting the significance of the new volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for biodiesel.
“It signaled a strong commitment by the EPA that they not only wanted to get the program back on track but they want to keep it on track,” said Jobe. “Prior to this rulemaking, we only had a precedent of one year’s growth for biomass-based biodiesel…after this year, we have a precedent for five years’ growth.”
Jobe noted that the rulemaking doubled the volumes for biodiesel between 2012 to 2017. “That’s significant because in the next five year time frame, from 2018 to 2022, it’s our industry’s goal to double again,” he said. “It’s our industry’s vision to be 10 by 22, ten percent of the nation’s diesel fuel supply by 2022.”
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is challenging the federal government’s rules on the import of Argentinian biodiesel. This article from the NBB’s ally, the American Soybean Association (ASA), says NBB filed a legal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that says the way the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is handling Argentinian biodiesel violates the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
In January of 2015 the U.S. EPA approved an application to streamline the process for Argentinian biodiesel imports to demonstrate compliance with the eligible renewable biomass and sustainability verification requirements of the RFS. The application was submitted to EPA by CARBIO, the trade association representing Argentinian biodiesel producers. The EPA approval allows a more streamlined survey approach for demonstrating feedstock sustainability instead of the more rigorous map and track requirements.
The NBB filed the initial petition in December 2015 seeking court review of the EPA decision, citing the lack of a public comment period, the adequacy of the Argentinian plan, and the inability of EPA to verify that the plan meets RFS requirements.
In the brief filed this week, the NBB responded to EPA’s claims that the U.S. biodiesel industry is not a proper party to challenge EPA’s decision and that EPA can act outside of the public eye and without the court’s oversight in this case. The reply brief reminds the Court that EPA never disputed that Argentina continues to expand its agricultural base or that the CARBIO proposal was the first of its kind and differed from what EPA previously noticed to the public.
The NBB also previously filed an administrative petition for reconsideration with the EPA regarding this decision. However, EPA has not responded to that administrative petition, choosing instead to argue in Court. Final briefs in the case are due next month, after which oral arguments will be scheduled.
ASA points out that imports of biodiesel from Argentina to the U.S. increased sharply toward the end of 2015 and are expected to rise again this year.
While we’re in the midst of winter’s icy grip, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) remind us how the green fuel can take on the coldest, snowiest winters. They point to last winter in Boston, when the city received nearly 10 FEET of snow, and Harvard University’s biodiesel-powered fleet didn’t miss a beat.
David E. Harris Jr., Harvard’s Director Transit and Fleet Management, reports they had no problems even on the most frigid days. “After the snowiest and coldest winter since we started using biodiesel 11 years ago, we were up and running providing transit service and keeping campus operations running smoothly,” Harris said. “Biodiesel is the fuel that helped us do that.”
Harvard uses approximately 2,000 gallons of B20 per week, for a total of more than 100,000 gallons a year. Their diesel fleet includes about 75 service vehicles – such as shuttle buses, solid waste and recycling trucks, mail delivery vehicles and more – and about 25 pieces of off-road maintenance equipment.
Harris, who shares his biodiesel know-how as a volunteer Biodiesel Ambassador, adds that the precautions he takes with biodiesel in cold weather are good practice with regular diesel fuel as well. He emphasizes that ensuring good quality fuel is priority one.
NBB adds that biodiesel can gel in very cold temperatures, and there are some things you need to keep in mind when using biodiesel in cold climates:
• Use high-quality fuel that meets the ASTM spec purchased from a reputable supplier.
• Be sure to discuss fuel options with your supplier to ensure that both the diesel fuel and biodiesel are blended only after meeting their respective specifications.
• Develop a good fuel management plan, in partnership with your supplier, that includes additization (just like for regular diesel) to improve cold weather operability.
• Test fuel periodically to verify its cold weather properties.
• Make sure you understand your fuel’s cold flow characteristics and have appropriate fuel handling and storage plans in place.
• Remain diligent on your tank maintenance program to help ensure fuel cleanliness.
Washington attorney Sandra Franco is the new general counsel at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). This news release from the group says Franco comes to NBB from the the environmental group at the international law firm Morgan Lewis, where she specialized in the Clean Air Act and natural resources law, and has long worked with the renewable fuels industry, including NBB, on a variety of legal matters. She is one of the nation’s foremost legal experts with respect to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“There isn’t an attorney in the country who knows renewable fuels law better than Sandra Franco, and we are thrilled to have her join our team,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe.
Franco has participated in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, as well as other federal district courts and courts of appeal. For NBB, Sandra worked on regulatory proceedings affecting the biodiesel industry and led her firm’s team on litigation over the RFS, successfully defending full implementation of the program.
“Sandra is a tremendously skilled and seasoned attorney who will help us ensure that the U.S. biodiesel industry has a strong voice and expert counsel in Washington as well as on legal and regulatory issues across the country,” Jobe added.
The broad spending and tax legislation compromise unveiled by House Republicans Tuesday night includes federal tax incentive extensions for renewable energy, including biodiesel, wind and solar.
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) commended congressional leaders for reinstating the expired biodiesel tax incentive in the tax and spending proposal released late Tuesday but continued pressing to reform the incentive as a domestic production credit
“Restoring this tax incentive will create jobs and economic activity at biodiesel plants across the country, so we want to thank leaders in the House and Senate for proposing this extension,” says NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Unfortunately the impact would be muted because this proposal would continue allowing foreign biodiesel to qualify for the tax incentive. This not only costs taxpayers more money but it paves the way for foreign fuels that already receive incentives in their home countries to undercut US production.”
Under the current blender’s tax credit, biodiesel produced overseas that is blended with diesel in the US qualifies for the $1-per-gallon tax credit. This has caused imports to rise sharply in recent years. In 2012, the US imported fewer than 100 million gallons of biodiesel. This year, imports will exceed 650 million gallons, and the Energy Information Agency recently estimated that volume will grow to more than 700 million gallons in 2016. Most of the imports are coming from companies in Argentina, Asia and Europe.
Bob Dinneen, CEO and President of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said of the package, ““By including these important tax incentives in the spending bill, congressional lawmakers sent a strong signal that they are interested in ensuring and encouraging the continued growth and innovation of our nation’s biofuels industry” said Dinneen. “These incentives are crucial for leveling the playing field in a tax code that is, unfortunately, overwhelmingly tilted toward the oil and gas industry. Oil companies have long benefited from billions in accelerated depreciation, intangible drilling expenses, and countless other tax breaks that are permanently imbedded in the tax code. Fundamental tax reform is critical to correct this imbalance.”
Extensions for wind energy’s $0.023/kWh production tax credit (PTC) and solar energy’s 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) are also part of the package. The wind PTC would be extended through 2020 and would decline in value each year after December 2016 until it is phased out entirely. The solar ITC would be drawn down gradually through 2022. Continue reading →
Oregon has joined a pair of its West Coast neighbors to finalize its Clean Fuels Program (CFP), gaining praise from the National Biodiesel Board, who points out how biodiesel can help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2025.
“Biodiesel is the most sustainable fuel on the planet,” said Don Scott, National Biodiesel Board director of sustainability. “We expect to play a major role in the Oregon program, just like we have in California and British Columbia.”
Oregon’s announcement leaves Washington as the only state on the West Coast without a program to reduce GHG emissions.
Rather than conducting its own lifecycle analysis, Oregon will generally use the values created in California, which have concluded that biodiesel decreases GHG emissions by 50 to 80 percent.
“We are pleased that a regional carbon market has developed on the West Coast and that Oregon will primarily be using California values,” Scott said. “This should improve the efficiency and liquidity of the programs.”
California and British Columbia already have similar programs.