Policy Uncertainty Shrinks US Biodiesel Market

nbb-advancedThe U.S. biodiesel market was a bit smaller in 2014, and policy uncertainty in Washington is being blamed for the decrease. The National Biodiesel Board says the destabilization of the industry, including the Obama Administration’s failure to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Congress allowing the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014, caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production, dropping total U.S. biodiesel consumption to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013.

“These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the industry trade association. “The drop in production represents lost jobs and economic activity. It represents a lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. And it represents another year in which we fail to tackle our dangerous dependence on oil in the fuels sector.”

“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” Jobe said. “But companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a New Year with continued uncertainty.”

Jobe went on to say that it’s frustrating because it is completely unnecessary and urged the Obama administration and Congress to put smart policies back in place.

Market Challenges, Fed Policy Talk at Biodiesel Conf.

2015biodieselconflogo1World energy market challenges and federal policies have had some major impacts on the biodiesel industry as 2014 closed out. That’s why this month, as a new year begins, attendees of the annual National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, January 19 – 22 at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Texas, will talk about what the petroleum glut and the delay of federal renewable fuels volume requirements for gas and diesel mean for biodiesel.

“With a new Congress convening in Washington, DC, promising significant new legislation aimed at biofuels and the energy sector, it just makes sense that we will be highlighting some of these same issues in the heart of the of domestic oil and gas industry,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

[E]nergy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations.

Of particular importance to biofuel producers is the fate of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal policy enacted under President George W. Bush with bipartisan support that ensures minimum volumes of biodiesel and other renewables are blended into the fuel supply. The year ended clouded in controversy as the EPA never finalized a rule for 2014’s volume requirements.

“Without a rule in place,” Jobe said, “biodiesel producers are hesitant to invest in their businesses and employees. In some cases, the uncertainty over the EPA potentially scaling back volume requirements has led some producers to shutter plants and lay off staff. The industry needs confidence that the federal government is committed to advanced biofuels and supportive of our growth.”

The 12th annual conference and expo also includes:

An opportunity for attendees and the public to test biodiesel vehicles at a unique ride-and-drive experience;
Automakers and fleets will display their latest cars and trucks at the vehicle showcase;
Texas fleet managers will share their experiences with biodiesel and how it’s making a difference in the Lone Star State;
A session on biodiesel infused heating oil shaking up the industry, and much, much more.

But energy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations.

More information and registration is available at biodieselconference.org.

Performance Standards for Biodiesel Heating Oil Set

BioHeatNew performance standards are set for biodiesel heating oil, better known as Bioheat. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says ASTM International, an organization which sets industry consensus standards for fuels and lubricants, has voted to approve performance specifications for blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel with traditional heating oil.

The updated ASTM D396 Standard Specification for Fuel Oils, containing the new grade for blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel, will be finalized and published by ASTM for public use after the usual ASTM review and editing process. It is expected by February 2015.

“The fuel oil industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and near-zero sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance.

The Bioheat renaissance gives oilheat dealers, mostly small, family-owned businesses, the ability to provide their customers with a desirable new product, according to Huber.

“Bioheat gives consumers the choice to use a clean, domestically produced fuel without having to invest in an expensive natural gas system,” said Paul Nazzaro, who leads the National Biodiesel Board’s Bioheat outreach program. “Setting these performance specs for increased biodiesel levels is hugely significant, because it opens the door for innovation in the heating oil industry and will allow more consumers to enjoy the full benefits of this fuel in their homes and businesses.”

Officials went on to point out that a 20 percent blend of biodiesel puts Bioheat on par with natural gas, the biggest competitor to oilheat. Even higher blends, up to the full 100 percent level, could reduce the carbon footprint of Bioheat up to 80 percent compared to traditional fuel oil.

Biodiesel Industry Wants Longer Tax Extension

nbb-logoBiodiesel producers are pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reinstate the biodiesel tax incentive as part of the tax extenders package passed on Wednesday, but they would prefer a longer term deal to provide more certainty for the industry.

“While we appreciate a one-year extension, we are urging Congress to continue pressing for a longer-term policy that can afford this industry the certainty needed to invest and grow,” said National Biodiesel Board VP of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Biodiesel businesses across the country are poised to expand their operations, hire new workers and build new infrastructure, but we need forward-looking policy.”

She added that the deal passed Thursday is only good until the end of this year, so the biodiesel tax incentive expire once again on January 1,for the fourth time in six years. “It is very difficult to run a business with that kind of uncertainty,” Steckel said.

“The biodiesel incentive is proven to create jobs and economic activity, and it pays tremendous dividends in terms of reducing costly pollution and improving our energy security as well,” said NBB Board Chairman Steven J. Levy, managing director at Sprague Operating Resources. “It is a successful policy that is working so there is no reason to have this kind of perpetual uncertainty.”

The House voted 378-46 Wednesday night to approve HR 5771, setting up a potential Senate vote in the coming days.

Give to Biodiesel Foundation for ‘Giving Tuesday”

NBF1Today is “Giving Tuesday,” a day when people are encouraged to get out of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday buying frenzies and give something back to charity. Our friends at the National Biodiesel Board suggest you consider the National Biodiesel Foundation, a non-profit organization that works closely with NBB for the advancement of biodiesel, with the goal of raising $100,000 today.

“Despite the clear benefits of biodiesel, its continued use is threatened. Biofuel opponents are backed by deep pockets and unsubstantiated messages,” stated Executive Director Tom Verry. “We need to work together to assist scientists in providing irrefutable data to show that biodiesel is improving the air we breathe, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and safeguarding our environment.”

You can be a part of a better tomorrow by supporting NBF in their mission by making a donation at www.biodieselfoundation.org.

NBB also reminds people that how much biodiesel already gives back to them: a cleaner environment, 60,000 domestic jobs and less dependence on foreign oil.

Biodiesel Board Gives Thanks for the Green Fuel

nbb-logoOur friends at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) are grateful for many things, but above all… biodiesel! And they’ve put together a top 10 list of how you can show your gratitude to those who support America’s advanced biofuel this Thanksgiving:

10. Clean your house for the big day with Method products. The company “set out to change the world by creating beautiful cleaning products that are as kind to the planet as they are tough on dirt.” Method uses biodiesel to power more than one-third of its U.S. truck shipments.

9. Serve Kettle chips as a pre-feast snack. All of the waste vegetable oil from the Kettle Brand® production process is converted into biodiesel. The company chips into the environment by fueling its fleet with biodiesel, too.

8. Stock the fridge with Sierra Nevada. This craft brewing company uses a blend of up to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) in its delivery trucks. The Chico, Calif. company grows eight acres of hops, also fueling its tractors with biodiesel.

Other items include driving over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house in a truck powered by biodiesel, cheering on your favorite football team to the Super Bowl, which has used biodiesel blends in its generators, and heating your home with a blend of biodiesel and heating oil, Bioheat® fuel.

And of course the top way to show your gratitude for America’s biodiesel makers is probably the easiest one of all:

1. Eat turkey! We’re confident millions of Americans will assist with this biodiesel-supporting directive! Biodiesel can be made from any fat or vegetable oil, including poultry fat, or leftover frying oil. In Arizona, Tucson Clean Cities will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Day-After-Thanksgiving Grease Collection event, with other cities hosting similar programs to keep grease out of the sewers and recycle it to make biodiesel.