Jobe sends warning letter to Obama as EPA preps RFS rule for OMB

By Ron Kotrba | May 22, 2014

U.S. EPA may be sending the 2014 renewable fuel standard (RFS) final rule to the Office of Management and Budget later this week, according to the National Biodiesel Board, and indications suggest that the EPA and the Obama administration are considering leaving the biomass-based diesel program at 1.28 billion gallons while possibly adding a small increase for the overall advanced biofuels standard, compared to its proposed rule released last fall.

In a May 21 letter to Obama, Joe Jobe, the CEO of the NBB, wrote, “You need to know that this decision would have lasting, damaging consequences for the jobs and economic activity supported by the U.S. biodiesel industry, while undermining your efforts to boost U.S. energy security through clean, domestic energy production.”

A modest increase in the advanced standard while keeping the biomass-based diesel subset at 1.28 billion gallons would likely mean more imported sugarcane ethanol from Brazil versus domestic biodiesel blending.

“To be clear, such a decision would serve only to encourage large volumes of imported biofuels from overseas, while crippling the U.S. biodiesel market,” Jobe wrote to the president. “Aside from sending American jobs overseas, this would undermine the fundamental goals of the RFS of boosting U.S. energy security while creating new domestic energy production. It was never the intent of Congress, nor, I’m confident, of your administration, that the RFS would serve to stimulate additional imports of foreign fuels. In fact, one of the primary goals of the RFS was to lessen our dependence on imported fuels and diversify the domestic energy supply, including in the diesel fuel pool.”

Jobe goes on to say, “I remember vividly your leadership as a Senator in introducing the American Fuels Act of 2006, which was the initial policy proposal that ultimately became the RFS2. It proposed adding a renewable requirement to the diesel fuel pool, which the original RFS did not have. It proposed requiring 2 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel by 2015. The biodiesel industry nearly achieved that level of production in 2013, making the advanced biofuel category of the RFS a huge success story. However, the EPA’s proposal would undercut that success. … We are extremely perplexed as to why the administration would seek to undermine the only EPA-approved advanced biofuel that has reached commercial production nationwide. Should EPA fail to raise the biodiesel volume and increase the advanced biofuels program in 2014, we would see a significant retreat in biodiesel production from 2013. In addition, given current markets, it would lead to Brazilian imports of sugar cane ethanol. The consequences of this policy would be the closing of at least 50 biodiesel plants. A recent survey of U.S. biodiesel producers found that more than half (57 percent) of US biodiesel producers have stopped producing altogether since the proposed rule came out and 78 percent have reduced production.”

The letter concludes by Jobe writing, “This is bad policy. It is bad for the administration, it’s bad for producers, it’s bad for investors, it’s bad for the environment, and it’s particularly bad for those of us who took cues from Congress and your administration and made the commitments to build a U.S. renewable fuels future. We urge you to stand behind your consistent support for renewable fuels by approving a modest increase in both the biodiesel and overall advanced biofuel categories that have thus far proven successful under your stewardship of the RFS.” 



4 Responses

  1. Kirk Cobb



    I think Joe Jobe and NBB deserve an answer from the Obama administration. Ron Kotrba, please publish Obama's response. NBB please continue to push the Obama administration to give a direct answer. Keep up the good work.

  2. Rich B



    It always tends to boil down to money and politics and I think Joe knows this. It is written between the lines - perplexed? Why? In 2006, biofuels were all the political rage and Senator Obama loved (and still does love) a political wave. The administration does nothing without testing the political winds first. In 2014, the political climate has now changed (no pun intended) and he needs to balance his greener RFS supporters against the recent energy booms in shale oil and natural gas and the energy security those resources propose. Ultimately, it is all about the money and the US Gov't likely sees more green ($$$) in shale oil & gas. Not to mention more votes, or at least less political issues than fighting the oil lobby heading into midterms.

  3. peter brown



    I would suggest that we all send Obama a letter in support of biodiesel. Email works also as you know.

  4. kirk Cobb



    Yes, and with the US Supreme Court's recent rulings about buying political influence in this country, the API may very well buy out all the biodiesel plants and just shut them all down. But that is beside the point. We all know that sooner or later petroleum will come to an end, and we will need sustainable, renewable energy and fuels. The biodiesel industry is so small - 2-billion gallons/year! - that's how much petroleum the US uses in 3 days. So why would the petroleum industry feel threatened? Long term, we need to develop these renewable energy systems, so they are in place when needed. And that doesn't even mention the GHG, climate change issue, that the petroleum industry continues to deny. As droughts and floods become more severe, agriculture begins to fail, and people begin to starve, maybe the deniers will take this more seriously. But of course, food prices will rise, the wealthy will continue to eat, and the poor will starve - the free market will take care of us, you bet!


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