Biodiesel producers implore President Trump to keep his promises

By The National Biodiesel Board | June 05, 2018

On June 4, in an open letter to President Donald J. Trump, biodiesel producers, advocates and agriculture leaders implore that America’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel not be ignored in the Trump administration’s efforts to navigate differences between petroleum refiners and the ethanol industry.

The letter to President Trump applauds his administration’s support for allowing year-round sales of E15 ethanol blends but highlights that the move provides no relief to a biodiesel industry that has repeatedly been hampered by federal policy decisions.

In the latest blow to the industry, news reports suggest the Trump administration is preparing to recommend zero growth in the biodiesel sector during rulemaking to set required volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Passed in 2005 by a bipartisan Congress under the George W. Bush administration, the RFS directs the U.S. EPA to require increasing volumes of biodiesel and other advanced biofuels in U.S. transportation fuel. In the time since President Trump has taken office, the EPA has held biomass-based diesel volumes flat at 2.1 billion gallons for 2018 and 2019. In addition, the advanced biofuels category, for which biodiesel also qualifies, has been reduced.

News organizations are reporting that the Trump administration is preparing to soon announce that they will once again recommend against higher volumes for 2020.

"We will continue to engage the administration and RFS proponents to make it perfectly clear that these rumored numbers send an unfortunate message to the biodiesel industry and rural economies across the country,” Kovarik said. “The easiest way to fix this and turn around a growing dissatisfaction among rural voters is to provide growth to the biodiesel industry and increase this RVO number."

Nationwide, the biodiesel industry supports roughly 64,000 jobs, many of them in rural, Midwestern communities that were hit the hardest during the recession.

Earlier this week, the NBB released findings from a survey of voters in three critical Midwestern states: Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri. Respondents overwhelmingly said they support federal policies to encourage growth in use of both biodiesel and renewable fuels. This support cut across party lines, with more than two-thirds of Republicans and nearly three-quarters of Independents saying they support U.S. efforts to boost the expansion of the biodiesel industry.

More than 80 percent of Republican voters in the survey said that it was important to them that President Trump keep his promise to defend the RFS.

“Actions taken by the EPA that undermine the integrity of the RFS and stand in direct contrast to your pledge of support to rural America can be righted with a simple solution—follow the law by increasing advanced biofuels volumes in 2019 and increase volumes of biomass-based diesel in 2020,” the biodiesel producers’ letter states. “This common-sense action will support American biodiesel producers, diversify domestic refining capacity, and provide much-needed economic support to rural America.”

Approximately 50 percent of biodiesel is produced from soybean oil, a byproduct of processing the beans for protein in food products. This system has provided an additional source of income for soybean farmers, and the added value means that they’re able to make the protein available at lower prices. Biodiesel is also produced from recycled cooking oil as well as waste fats.

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. NBB is the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors, as well as the U.S. renewable diesel industry.

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