IBB implores US EPA to raise biodiesel gallons under RFS

By The Iowa Biodiesel Board | July 31, 2019

The chair of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and a farmer leader from the Iowa Soybean Association requested U.S. EPA to reconsider its proposed requirements for biodiesel under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Testifying July 31 at an EPA hearing in Ypsilanti, Michigan, IBB joined the National Biodiesel Board and its members in asking EPA to increase the 2021 biomass-based diesel volume by 330 million gallons, to 2.76 billion gallons. They also asked that EPA increase the advanced biofuel and overall standards for 2020 by 500 million gallons, to 5.5 billion for 2020.

“The EPA’s current proposed volumes are a win for big oil and others seeking to go backwards,” Tom Brooks, IBB chair and general manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa, said at the hearing. “We would rather see support thrown behind those who seek to decrease our carbon footprint and dependence on petroleum. Yet EPA continues to hold back an important manufacturing sector, at a time when it is already operating below its capacity. You have the opportunity to repair this fault by further expanding biodiesel volumes.”

Brooks said the EPA itself acknowledges that the small refinery exemptions have created more than 2.2 billion carryover RINs that will flow into 2020, reducing the demand for biofuels below the volumes it has proposed. “The exemptions have already destroyed demand for more than 360 million gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel,” Brooks said. “That happens to equal an entire year’s worth of production in Iowa. As chairman of the IBB, I know firsthand the biodiesel industry stands ready to meet growing volumes under the RFS. Our members say there are many other expansion projects ready and waiting, including at my own plant. Unfortunately, most of those are currently on hold until we see that the government is committed to year-over-year growth of the RFS volume targets. We can meet production demand and have substantial room for growth. You often sell us short in our abilities, but whatever you unleash as market opportunity, we will rise to meet.”

Dave Walton, a farmer from Wilton, Iowa, who serves as a director for the ISA and IBB, said, “When EPA considers available feedstock for biodiesel production, you should know that we have a record carryover of soybean stocks...projected to remain at 795 million bushels at the end of the 2019-’20 marketing year. That equates to more than a billion gallons of potential biodiesel. We have the capability to meet feedstock needs for a growing RVO, and now is the time to secure higher volumes through the RFS. The administration must understand that a feeble RFS has a ripple effect. This proposal is yet another blow, with farm income already down by 50 percent compared to five years ago, according to the USDA. Soybean prices are at a 10-year low. While there’s a multitude of reasons why prices farmers are receiving are well below the cost of production, including sharply reduced soybean exports due to the trade standoff with China, several primary factors have been placed upon us by our government’s action or inaction. The retroactive small refinery exemptions are a damaging factor, especially when combined with multiyear stagnant RVOs. Importantly, the demand for biodiesel opens other markets for farmers and adds value to our products. Supporting our participation in the energy market through common sense policies like the RFS can help agriculture get back on course.”

Other IBB member companies testifying included Renewable Energy Group Inc., Hero BX and W2Fuel.

Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel made from diverse agricultural byproducts and coproducts, such as soybean oil. The Iowa Biodiesel Board is a state trade association representing the biodiesel industry.

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