NBB In Sight

NBB structure change reflects current industry
By Donnell Rehagen, NBB Chief Operating Officer | August 03, 2007
It should be news to no one that the biodiesel industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. The biodiesel tax credit, which became law in January 2005, significantly changed the industry's landscape. The industry's growth, which Congress and President George W. Bush sought, quickly began to occur. This growth has continued at a break-neck pace ever since.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has seen growth as well. The national trade association for the biodiesel industry has grown from about 65 members in 2004 to over 450 today. The growth in membership has also changed the landscape of the trade association.

In recognition of the significant changes in membership, the NBB's governing board established a Bylaws and Structure Review Task Force in November 2006. NBB Chairman Darryl Brinkmann appointed the task force members and charged them with a top-to-bottom review of the bylaws. He began the process by asking NBB's legal counsel, Mark Truesdell, to thoroughly review the bylaws for compliance with all applicable laws. Upon completion, the task force began its review by carefully looking for areas where the bylaws did not reflect the current condition of the industry as well as they should. The review included the makeup of the governing board.

The 15-member governing board-the elected leadership of the association-is elected every November. The bylaws provided for eligibility for election to the governing board for any "voting member" of the association. Nominations have been solicited by the Election Committee. In the past, all nominees were required to affiliate themselves with one of three categories: 1) vegetable oil, 2) animal/recycled or 3) at large. These categories were used to divide up the ballot, as the bylaws directed that one nominee be elected from each category.

The growth of the biodiesel industry, and the feedstock neutrality of many of its production facilities, made affiliation with a single category more difficult. The task force studied this issue very carefully and recommended some sweeping changes. First, the task force recognized the increased number of biodiesel producer-members among the voting membership, as well as the need to maintain the strong leadership which has been constantly present from the industry's renderer- and farmer-members. The task force felt that breaking down the ballot into categories to ensure governing board membership from constituency groups continued to be valuable.

The task force recommended that new categories be used that could be tied to the member's membership category with the NBB (i.e., biodiesel producer, feedstock producer, feedstock producer organization). Ultimately, the task force recommended that two members of the governing board be elected from the feedstock producers, two from the voting membership, but limited to those with a renderer affiliation (membership in the National Renderers Association or Fats & Protein Research Association), and four be elected from the biodiesel producer/feedstock producer organizations. In addition to these eight members, the task force recommended the remaining seven be elected on an open ballot via a weighted vote (earned by voting members based on financial contributions and dues paid). All 15 members will have two-year terms with no term limits. Term limits will apply to all elected officers within the governing board. The task force recommended that the terms of all current members of the governing board expire this November to allow the new structure and representation to fully be in place after the November election.

This proposal was presented to the membership via an online webinar in early June. The final proposal, which included webinar input, was presented to the membership at the NBB's June board meeting and overwhelmingly passed.

An ever-changing industry needs a trade association that is nimble and flexible. This new structure for leadership of this association should ensure NBB's ability to speak with one voice and continue to advance the causes necessary to continue building a prosperous biodiesel industry in the United States.
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