Industry in High Gear to Secure Critical Federal Policy Decision
Those who attended the National Biodiesel Board’s June membership meeting in Washington, D.C., know that our team has been working overtime to win a volume increase for biodiesel under the renewable fuel standard (RFS) next year. Based on our members’ input, we know that there is no issue more important to the industry than winning this fight, and we wanted to give you an overview of the efforts we have taken and strongly encourage you to stay engaged in this issue. Regardless of the final outcome this year, this is a battle our industry could be waging for years to come as the U.S. EPA establishes annual RFS volumes for biodiesel.
Starting this year, the RFS calls for a minimum of 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel (mostly biodiesel) to be used each year in the U.S. fuel supply until 2022. The law gives the EPA the discretion to raise that minimum requirement each year based on industry capacity, feedstock availability and other factors. For 2013, the EPA proposed increasing the volume requirement to 1.28 billion gallons. This proposal is consistent with our internal research on sustainable growth and we strongly support it.
A final decision, however, has been stalled as the Office of Management and Budget—an arm of the White House charged with scrutinizing regulation—has raised questions. NBB’s Washington office has been working closely for months with the EPA, OMB, USDA, Congress and other White House officials to explain the economic, environmental and energy security benefits of increasing biodiesel production and use.
We have held a series of meetings with OMB in which we particularly focused on the economic benefits of biodiesel, including potential savings to consumers. In addition, we have been communicating regularly with the EPA, White House officials and others to ensure that the right people understand the significance of this rule to our industry and the broader economy, and we have boosted our presence on Capitol Hill to bolster our support there.
Simultaneously, the biodiesel community has weighed in strongly with grassroots advocacy. In our initial grassroots campaign that started in January, we estimate that nearly 2,000 letters were sent to the administration on this issue. Along with strong participation from you, NBB dedicated additional resources to identifying supporters across the country and organizing letter-writing campaigns in a handful of key states.
More recently, as the administration moves closer to a decision, we have launched another outreach campaign that includes paid advertising in key states and another letter-writing campaign, and we need your participation. If you haven’t already, please visit the Fueling Action link at www.biodiesel.org website and send one of our advocacy letters.
While we don’t have a final ruling as of this writing, we know that even in a busy election season, your message is getting through and building awareness at the White House that this is a decision that affects thousands of people’s livelihoods.
In February, 60 members of Congress signed letters to the White House urging the administration to finalize the EPA’s proposal, and we are working with lawmakers on additional letters of support. At our June membership meeting, a handful of biodiesel producers participated in a meeting with key administration energy officials where we had the opportunity to state our case. The following day, White House energy adviser Dan Utech addressed our meeting and said the administration understands the rule’s importance and was reviewing it carefully. In addition, President Obama specifically mentioned the importance of biodiesel at a campaign event in California a few days later.
After months of delays, we believe we are nearing the finish line and that the administration is moving closer to a decision. If you haven’t already, we urge you to make your voice heard on this critical decision. Write the administration. Call your members of Congress. Ask your friends and family to do the same. With strong grassroots advocacy, we can continue to strengthen the RFS and grow the U.S. biodiesel industry into America’s leading advanced biofuel.
Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs, National Biodiesel Board