Nearly 120 companies ask Obama to boost biodiesel standard in RFS
One hundred and seventeen biodiesel companies and affiliated businesses from 41 states called on President Obama Wednesday to stand behind his past support for the U.S. biodiesel industry by continuing sustainable growth under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).
Highlighting Obama’s strong position on biodiesel going back to his days as a U.S. senator and as a candidate for president, the companies and organizations sent Obama a letter outlining the extensive damage that would result from the EPA’s current RFS proposal, which would set a biodiesel standard of 1.28 billion gallons—far below actual 2013 production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. The letter can be found here.
“As entrepreneurs and business leaders representing thousands of employees, we have followed signals from this administration and invested billions of dollars in developing a U.S. biodiesel industry that has successfully delivered more than 5 billion gallons of EPA-designated advanced biofuel under the RFS since you took office,” the letter states. “We are extremely concerned that you could be retreating on your previously unwavering support for biodiesel in a way that would have severe consequences for the industry’s future.”
The companies and other organizations signing the letter represent thousands of employees in states across the country, from California to Minnesota to Rhode Island. They specifically referenced legislation introduced by then-Sen. Obama in 2006 (“The American Fuels Act”) that called for an ambitious standard of 2 billion gallons of alternative diesel fuels by 2015.
“Thanks to American innovation, the hard work of our employees, and strong, consistent federal policy under the RFS, the biodiesel industry almost reached that goal last year by producing nearly 1.8 billion gallons under the RFS,” the letter continues. “With stable policy, it is very likely that the industry will—a mere decade later—indeed reach your stated goal of 2 billion gallons by 2015. This is a success story of which you and your administration should be proud: A clean, renewable energy industry meeting a challenging goal that you envisioned 10 years ago. Yet with this EPA proposal, this administration is retreating. We urge you not to.”
Biodiesel—made from a variety of resources including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats—is the first EPA-designated advanced biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons supporting more than 62,200 jobs.
The EPA’s RFS proposal remains pending, with the administration planning to finalize it in June.
A recent survey of biodiesel producers conducted by National Biodiesel Board found that nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers have scaled back production this year and more than half have idled production at a plant altogether. Additionally, two-thirds of producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce as a result of the downturn, which they attribute to the weak RFS proposal and the expiration of the biodiesel tax incentive.