Biodiesel advocates to fight for renewable fuels policy in DC

By The National Biodiesel Board | January 26, 2015

Renewable fuels supporters cheered as federal policy experts at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Fort Worth, Texas, urged advocates to “write their own script” for success.

Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs, encouraged the biodiesel conference attendees to explain the importance of the advanced biofuel industry to the Obama administration and Congress.

“We’re already writing our own script for 2015,” she said. “We do that by building our strengths, and redoubling our efforts across grassroots advocacy, coalition building and public outreach—to make our case, loud, clear and consistently.

“We do that by strengthening our collective voice—getting more members involved and empowering you to advocate for yourselves—because we can’t do it without you,” she continued.

Steckel said a year of dysfunction and pessimism in Washington, D.C., often felt like the industry was “stuck in a bad movie.”

“There was this manufactured suspense from the repeated delays in the RFS volumes, and every time we felt like the ending was coming, the directors threw in another unnecessary twist to string out the plot,” Steckel said. “And we still haven’t seen the credits roll.”

After the record year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013, the EPA initially proposed in November 2013 to hold the 2014 RFS biodiesel volume at 1.28 billion gallons. The agency subsequently withheld a final rule and has still not established 2014 volumes, even as it has signaled that it will improve the original proposal. The continued uncertainty throughout the year has left the industry in a state of limbo, although many biodiesel companies continued producing based on assurances from the administration that RFS volumes would increase.

“It makes no sense, and unlike a weak Hollywood script, Washington’s failure to act is creating serious damage in the real world,” Steckel said.

Steckel was joined on stage by several former lawmakers whom have played important roles in advancing biodiesel and renewable fuels policy, including Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (Mo.) and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.

Now President of the American Automotive Policy Council, Blunt harkened back to his time as a naval officer to remind conference attendees of the important role biodiesel and other advanced biofuels play in U.S. national security. As he prepared for service, Blunt said, the first Gulf War erupted, with oil production a central issue of the conflict.

After the Iraq moved on Kuwait, the U.S. got involved, Blunt continued, because “our need for energy to support our economy and way of life clearly intersect with our foreign policy.”

While acknowledging recent growth domestic oil production, Blunt said, increased drilling on American shores does not make the country immune to global oil market pressures.

“Energy security is not simply more oil. More U.S. oil does not change the fact that prices are set globally based on international factors that go far beyond simple supply and demand,” Blunt explained.

“Political and economic instability in the Middle East, Russia and China as well as controls in the supply by OPEC all impact the global price of oil. It does not change the fact that with only one fuel source, we have no options and instead remain subject to the highs and lows of the global market,” he said.

Steckel echoed Blunt’s comments and stressed the importance of codifying biodiesel’s many significant benefits into effective public policy.

“Strong biodiesel policy is something that the public supports, and that helps us as a nation achieve our collective goals for creating U.S. jobs, cleaning the air, and reducing our dangerous dependence on one global commodity—oil,” she said.


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