New EPA Rules Could Be Bad News for Biodiesel

John Davis

epasealWhile the new Environmental Protection Agency rules regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard have been welcomed by some renewable fuel advocates (see Cindy’s post from earlier today), the news is not as bright for backers of biodiesel.

According to this story in the Des Moines (IA) Register, biodiesel made from soybeans… very popular in the Midwest… won’t meet the new requirements for reducing greenhouse gases. And industry officials say that if the soy-biodiesel isn’t counted, it will be extremely hard to meet the 1-billion-gallons a year biodiesel requirement by 2012:

To qualify toward the annual targets, the 2007 energy law says biodiesel must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared with conventional diesel. The EPA is crediting biodiesel made from soybean oil with only a 22 percent reduction.

Congress required the EPA to assess the carbon footprint of biofuels and to take into account the land-use impact of using food crops such as soybeans and corn for biofuels. The theory is that using food commodities for fuel can increase greenhouse gas emissions, because forests and grasslands will be put into cultivation to maintain adequate global food supplies.

There also are emission targets for ethanol, but existing corn ethanol plants were exempted from them, whereas existing biodiesel plants were not given a similar break.

“They’re going to have to change (the rules) unless they want to take a step backwards in producing domestically produced low-carbon diesel replacement fuel,” said Michael Frohlich, a spokesman for the National Biodiesel Board.

The article goes on to say that some experts believe that mixing soy-biodiesel with biodiesel made from animal fat or waste grease could meet the new requirements.

I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this one. Stay tuned.

Cindy listened in on today’s press conference and has this audio from the biodiesel question Des Moines Register reporter Philip Brasher posed: [audio:]

Audio, Biodiesel