NBB Celebrates 25 Years of Growth, Milestones, Challenges

The U.S. biodiesel industry has come a long way from those early days when the entire sector fit around a single boardroom table. Reflecting on our relatively brief time as an industry reveals some truly remarkable achievements.
By Donnell Rehagen | January 04, 2018

Twenty-five years. A quarter century of biodiesel. Two and a half decades since the National Biodiesel Board and the commercial biodiesel industry got their start in the U.S. We’ve come a long way from those early days when the entire industry fit around a single boardroom table. Reflecting on our relatively brief time as an industry reveals some truly remarkable achievements that serve as building blocks for where we are and where we intend to go.

The biodiesel industry has been built from visionary leaders throughout our history. In the early days, NBB started as the National SoyDiesel Development Board in 1992 after the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council’s earlier study at the University of Missouri demonstrated biodiesel had potential as a diesel fuel replacement. They joined other state soybean groups to create the organization designed to develop an industrial outlet for the vast surplus of soybean oil paired with a vision for improving American energy security.

Recognizing the value that diversity would bring to the fledgling industry, the name was changed to the National Biodiesel Board in 1994. The first decade of the association focused millions of dollars of investments from the soybean checkoff into research and development designed to make this fats-to-fuels dream a reality. At a time when few producers had the means individually, NBB led efforts on engine durability, compatibility and emissions testing. A commercial specification was developed, passed and refined at ASTM. And study after study demonstrated biodiesel’s viability. Possibly most important was NBB’s health effects testing, a million-dollar project on its own, necessary to make biodiesel a legally registered fuel with the U.S. EPA and compliant with the Clean Air Act. From its publication in 2000 to when the data became public information in 2015, NBB members were able to gain access to NBB’s Tier I and Tier II health effects data as a benefit of membership, making their fuel legal to sell without each individual producer conducting his own million-dollar testing to comply with the law.

Biodiesel became one of the most-tested fuels in the world because of the robust technical program carried out by NBB in the 1990s. These efforts became the building blocks of growth. After millions of dollars of investment, there was still only a small half-million-gallon annual market for biodiesel by 1999. Now that the fuel was proven and a small group of visionary entrepreneurs were making the industry a reality, it was time to grow the market.

The 2000s were dominated by landmark policy efforts as momentum built and more commercial producers came online. Soybean checkoff and federal grant dollars continued to support research, education and promotion efforts as the growing pool of membership dues resources were laser-focused on government affairs efforts at the state and federal level.

After years of groundwork, the federal biodiesel tax incentive was first enacted as part of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush the next year, establishing a federal tax incentive for biodiesel that helped level the playing field, spurring the next wave of growth.

The industry increasingly saw the need for strong federal policy and NBB doubled down on its efforts, establishing a full-time presence by opening our Washington, D.C., office in 2006. The National Biodiesel Political Action Committee was also launched in 2007 and the industry produced 500 million gallons of fuel that year.

The industry continued its trajectory of growth and the successes of the 2010s have largely revolved around the Renewable Fuel Standard. RFS2 was the revised version of the law that included a carve-out for advanced biofuels and biomass-based diesel, implemented for the first time in 2010. This and other successes propelled us across the 1-billion-gallon threshold for the first time as an industry in 2011. Other achievements have included numerous state policy victories, successful partnerships with equipment manufacturers, continued testing and fuel quality improvements, a national advertising campaign branding biodiesel as an advanced biofuel, extensive sustainability initiatives, and so much more.

When looking back over the past 25 years, the list of challenges we’ve faced and obstacles we’ve overcome as an industry is remarkable. Many other industries our size would have folded under the pressure, but I’m convinced we have succeeded because of each and every individual that makes up this great industry. Your vision, strength, resilience and love for what you do has carried us all to where we are today, and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve over the next 25 years!

Donnell Rehagen
National Biodiesel Board

Array ( [REDIRECT_REDIRECT_HTTPS] => on [REDIRECT_REDIRECT_SSL_TLS_SNI] => biodieselmagazine.com [REDIRECT_REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [REDIRECT_HTTPS] => on [REDIRECT_SSL_TLS_SNI] => biodieselmagazine.com [REDIRECT_STATUS] => 200 [HTTPS] => on [SSL_TLS_SNI] => biodieselmagazine.com [HTTP_HOST] => biodieselmagazine.com [HTTP_CONNECTION] => Keep-Alive [HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING] => gzip [HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR] => [HTTP_CF_RAY] => 80e25822cf055b5f-IAD [HTTP_X_FORWARDED_PROTO] => https [HTTP_CF_VISITOR] => {"scheme":"https"} [HTTP_USER_AGENT] => CCBot/2.0 (https://commoncrawl.org/faq/) [HTTP_ACCEPT] => text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 [HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE] => en-US,en;q=0.5 [HTTP_IF_MODIFIED_SINCE] => Mon, 30 Jan 2023 17:59:23 GMT [HTTP_CDN_LOOP] => cloudflare [HTTP_CF_CONNECTING_IP] => [HTTP_CF_IPCOUNTRY] => US [PATH] => /sbin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin [SERVER_SIGNATURE] =>
Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) Server at biodieselmagazine.com Port 443
[SERVER_SOFTWARE] => Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) [SERVER_NAME] => biodieselmagazine.com [SERVER_ADDR] => [SERVER_PORT] => 443 [REMOTE_ADDR] => [DOCUMENT_ROOT] => /datadrive/websites/biodieselmagazine.com/ [SERVER_ADMIN] => root@localhost [SCRIPT_FILENAME] => /datadrive/websites/biodieselmagazine.com/app/webroot/index.php [REMOTE_PORT] => 36178 [REDIRECT_QUERY_STRING] => url=articles/2516233/nbb-celebrates-25-years-of-growth-milestones-challenges [REDIRECT_URL] => /app/webroot/articles/2516233/nbb-celebrates-25-years-of-growth-milestones-challenges [GATEWAY_INTERFACE] => CGI/1.1 [SERVER_PROTOCOL] => HTTP/1.1 [REQUEST_METHOD] => GET [QUERY_STRING] => url=articles/2516233/nbb-celebrates-25-years-of-growth-milestones-challenges [REQUEST_URI] => /articles/2516233/nbb-celebrates-25-years-of-growth-milestones-challenges [SCRIPT_NAME] => /app/webroot/index.php [PHP_SELF] => /app/webroot/index.php [REQUEST_TIME_FLOAT] => 1695970775.626 [REQUEST_TIME] => 1695970775 )