Issues of the Day

From his Editor's Note, Ron Kotrba highlights the contents of the Fall 2018 print edition of Biodiesel Magazine in the political context of what has ensued this autumn on Capitol Hill.
By Ron Kotrba | October 25, 2018

As we worked to put this issue of the magazine together this fall, Capitol Hill was besieged with protestors contesting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The divisiveness of the process to install a Justice who can swing the highest court in the land from the left to the right for the first time in half a century was not unlike a train wreck: You didn’t want to watch, but you couldn’t look away. Certain key phrases hammered over and over again by talking heads—“corroborating evidence” and “supplemental background investigation” to name just a few—will ring inside my ears long after the dust has settled and the 24-hour news cycle moves onto its next circus sideshow. I cannot guarantee a civil response if I hear one more person mispronounce “corroborate.” It is a hard “R,” people. Since when has two “Rs” made a “W” sound, anyway? In any event, it was the finest display of partisan politics we’ve seen in some time.

While the Senate was engaged in this epic, partisan battle, a bipartisan congressional group sent a letter to House leaders calling for a multiyear reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit. Earlier this year, after several years of disagreement between trade associations, the National Biodiesel Board dropped its pursuit of reforming the tax credit from a blenders credit to a domestic producers incentive and once again unified its voice with the Advanced Biofuels Association calling on Congress to renew the blenders tax credit as-is. This, of course, came about after the NBB’s trade cases against Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel were concluded and hefty tariffs were put in place. Nevertheless, having a unified voice on this front is encouraging.

Although we may have witnessed enough polarizing events this fall to last a lifetime, another conflict-ridden concern specific to our industry has been mounting for some time. The talk of oil companies coprocessing renewable feedstock at petroleum refineries has its roots in a biodiesel era of a different time. The biodiesel industry’s concerns over this are real, and I try to lay these out on page 20 in “The Complex Dynamics of Coprocessing.” At the risk of oversimplifying the case, the argument encompasses feedstock availability and demand, a battle over undifferentiated advanced biofuel volumes in RFS, questions of regulatory equity and commitment to renewables, investments (or lack thereof), technical issues, and adding gallons to the energy mix vs. reducing them.

I would also like to bring your attention to our Spotlight feature, “Consultative Expansion,” on page 16. We highlight the expansions of two very different industry players—Hero BX and Green Energy Biofuel—while tying the section together with a profile of consulting firm Clean Energy Consultants and founder Ernie Pollitzer, who has more than 30 years of experience in environmental compliance. I would be remiss not to point out the compelling columns in this issue as well: “The Road to Feedstock Flexibility” by Chris Abrams of Imerys on page 6, and “Driving Decarbonization” by Graham Noyes of the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition on page 8.

Finally, I would like to offer a special thank you to our advertisers for supporting this quarterly print magazine that supports the biodiesel industry, and for entrusting us to deliver your message to our audience.

Author: Ron Kotrba
Biodiesel Magazine

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