Bettering Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, discusses the hardship endured by the broader agricultural industry this spring during the coronavirus pandemic and highlights good deeds performed by U.S. biodiesel producers as a result.
By Donnell Rehagen | July 01, 2020

The National Biodiesel Board saw 2020 as a fresh start and year of opportunity. Our industry led off the year with a major victory in the biodiesel tax credit, providing certainty and relief for members across the value chain from coast to coast. We also announced our new industry vision that we were so excited about and eager to share, and we still are. At the beginning of 2020, our markets began to reflect our ambitious industry goals. We saw biodiesel production reach more than 130 million gallons in the first month, but enthusiasm was quickly dampened as our nation was thrust into a historic shutdown just a few weeks later.

We have seen our member plants struggle with employment decisions and have felt saddened by the severe impacts of the national pandemic across the broader agriculture industry, including animal agriculture, and others. We know our industry and all the industries that support it are essential, and so are all the individuals who work to make this sector so vital.

These uncertain times have challenged us to reflect and transition into a new way to live and do business. Family, health and safety have been top priorities for our association, and we wanted to spread that sentiment to the communities being affected by COVID-19.

I am proud to see the response from those in our industry stepping up to help in their own ways, from producers donating glycerin for hand sanitizer to organizing fundraisers, supporting local restaurants, and so much more that we have not seen. While the global pandemic remains a focus across every industry, biodiesel and renewable diesel supporters are banding together to help others in need.

In Iowa, biodiesel producer Western Iowa Energy and ethanol producer Absolute Energy donated shipments of ethanol and glycerin to be used for hand sanitizer. Similar stories came from Kentucky, where Owensboro Grain donated glycerin for hand sanitizer for local homeless shelters; and Illinois, where a partnership between the Illinois Soybean Association and the Chicago Parks District resulted in sanitizer being available for all park staff and other essential workers.

Companies in the Northeast are also looking for ways to lend a hand. Newport Biodiesel out of Rhode Island hosted a fundraiser to provide senior citizens with gift cards to struggling local restaurants, providing support for small businesses and food for those in need. In New York, NBB teamed up with the National Biodiesel Foundation and the New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association to provide hot meals sourced from local restaurants to first responders in New York City. During the joint effort, we were able to serve more than 3,100 meals to EMS dispatch centers in Brooklyn and the Bronx, multiple EMS stations, the mechanics of the Fleet Services Division, and other critical FDNY personnel.

We will continue to help as much as we can and applaud our members who are doing the best they can in their respective communities. We want people to know we are here for any support and assistance we can provide, so please reach out to us if there is anything we can do to ease the burden during these turbulent times. We are, after all, one big family.

Our industry, and our nation, will get through this together. We still fully believe the long-term industry future is bright and we are still striving to meet our achievable goals by 2030. Policymakers around the country are pursuing their own goals to reduce carbon and embrace cleaner-burning fuels. We are excited to share the message that biodiesel and renewable diesel are better, cleaner, and available now!

Donnell Rehagen
National Biodiesel Board

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