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.
The National Biodiesel Board recently elected new officers for 2016.
* Chairman – Ron Marr, Minnesota Soybean Processors
* Vice-Chair – Jennifer Case, New Leaf Biofuel
* Treasurer – Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board
* Secretary – Kent Engelbrecht, ADM
Marr said the officers’ job now is to make sure the green fuel has all the necessary tools to remain competitive.
“America’s advanced biofuel continues to make a significant impact to reduce carbon and support local jobs from Coast to Coast,” said NBB’s newly elected chair Ron Marr. “Right now our focus is on securing a long term producers incentive to support much needed competition in the distillate fuel market. Advocating for a strong and growing biodiesel market remains the National Biodiesel Board’s top priority, and I look forward to working with our board and members to expand biodiesel’s energy, environment and economic benefits even further.”
The biodiesel industry is calling on Congress to quickly pass a measure that would renew the biodiesel tax credit. The new legislation, sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J), includes a key reform restructuring the incentive from a blender’s credit to a producer’s credit focused on domestic production. It eliminates the existing blender’s structure, which is allowing foreign producers take advantage of the incentive. The National Biodiesel Board points out that not only will the new legislation encourage domestic production, it will save about $90 million in tax dollars. NBB wants action on it soon.
“The biodiesel industry cannot grow and support good-paying jobs without some level of predictability on tax policy, and the legislative clock is winding down,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This tax incentive has strong bipartisan support, as demonstrated by the bills introduced today. It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for consumers. And importantly the reforms included in today’s bills will appropriately focus the incentive on U.S. production”
“We want to thank Reps. Noem and Pascrell and Sens. Grassley and Cantwell again for their leadership on this issue,” she added. “This bill, when passed into law, will go a long way toward creating biodiesel jobs across the country and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
Grassley’s home state Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) added their encouragement to pass the measure, as well as their thanks to the lawmakers involved. Continue reading
The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) held a press call today to explain why they are so pleased with the final rule on volume obligations for biodiesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
First of all, NBB CEO Joe Jobe says the rule shows steady growth for biomass-based diesel from 2012 through 2017. “It grows the program from a billion gallons in 2012 to calling for two billion gallons in 2017,” he said. “So that’s a doubling of our industry that is pretty much on track to happen in a five year time period.” He adds that they hope to double again in the following five years.
In addition, Jobe says the rule shows a commitment on the part of the administration to utilize the RFS program to achieve greenhouse gas reduction in the heavy duty transportation sector and gets the program back on track.
At the same time, Jobe says they are continuing to work with Congress to have the biodiesel tax incentives extended, because that works with the RFS for continued growth in the industry. “They’re both important to us, they’re both priorities to us and they’re both needed in this still nascent stage of our industry,” said Jobe.
Also participating in the call with Jobe was NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel: Biodiesel Board call on RFS volumes
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the final renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for years 2014, 2015 and 2016 as well as the volumes for the biomass-based diesel category for 2014-2017 that includes biodiesel volumes. The volumes were raised since the proposal in May 2015 and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) welcomed the improved #RFS rules; yet stressed that the EPA still needs to improve the amount of renewable fuels such as #biodiesel in years to come. Biodiesel is designated as an Advanced Biofuel under the RFS.
“This decision means we will displace billions of gallons of petroleum diesel in the coming years with clean-burning biodiesel. That means less pollution, more American jobs, and more competition that is sorely lacking in the fuels market,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “It is a good rule. It may not be all we had hoped for but it will go a long way toward getting the U.S. biodiesel industry growing again and reducing our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.”
According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 57 percent to 86 percent as compared with petroleum diesel depending on the fuel’s production pathway. Under the now final RFS rule, Biomass-based Diesel volumes would grow to 1.9 billion gallons in 2016 and 2 billion gallons in 2017. The Biomass-based Diesel category also includes renewable diesel, another diesel alternative made from the same feedstocks using a different technology.
Jobe says the new standards reflect modest but meaningful growth over recent years when the U.S. market has hovered around 1.8 billion gallons annually. “We certainly think the biodiesel and overall Advanced Biofuel standards could and should have been higher,” he added. “The production capacity is there, and we have surplus fats and oils that can be put to good use.”
American Soybean Association (ASA) President Wade Cowan seconded NBB’s promise that the biodiesel industry can do much more. “As an industry we have always advocated for RFS volumes that are modest and achievable and the biodiesel industry has met or exceeded the targets each and every year that the program has been in place,” said Cowan. “The Administration wants to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and biodiesel can contribute more to that effort.”
Accounting for approximately half of the feedstock used, soybean oil remains the largest source of oil for biodiesel production.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 1, is what is known as Giving Tuesday, a day during this time of year when you are asked to give to charitable causes. The National Biodiesel Foundation asks you consider giving to the future of biodiesel.
Interested in helping young scientists get involved with biodiesel? Your donation to the National Biodiesel Foundation on Giving Tuesday, December 1, will do just that. This year’s proceeds specifically support the Next Generation Scientists/Dallas Hanks Memorial Fund. NBF is proud to announce that your donation on Giving Tuesday will go further through a generous matching donation. Please make this unique opportunity count.
More information on the fund and how to donate to it are available here.