In Face of Uncertainty, Industry Must Fight On

Despite huge challenges and misinformation to the contrary, biodiesel has caused the goals of the entire advanced biofuel category in the renewable fuel standard to be met and exceeded every year. Now is no time to stop. We can succeed and we will.
By Joe Jobe | December 31, 2014

As we put another year in the books, I am extremely proud of how the biodiesel industry came together to respond to the adversity faced in 2014. We have certainly seen more than our share of tough times before, but we have never had to fight harder, smarter, and with more at stake than we did in 2014.

The disastrous proposed 2014 renewable volume obligations (RVO) and the EPA’s delay in the final rule all the way to 2015, combined with Congress’ delay in the reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit, caused tremendous financial harm to many members—especially our smaller producers. Meanwhile, we saw a refortified effort by a powerful antibiofuels coalition attack biofuels politically, legally, and through public opinion. Huge efforts to repeal the renewable fuel standard (RFS), litigation against it, and multimedia campaigns to disparage biofuels came from the petroleum lobby and its antibiofuels coalition.

Every effort has been made to combat and defeat these attacks on all fronts. While we continue to win these fights despite being out-resourced many times over, this is a fight that will be ongoing for some time.

During 2014, the biodiesel industry submitted more than 6,300 individual comments to EPA during the 60-day 2014 RVO comment period. Members also helped shape the extensive official NBB comments, 400 pages worth of data. More than 120 businesses from 41 states signed a joint letter to President Obama to support a strong RVO for biodiesel. More than 200 news stories, letters to the editor, and op-eds were printed in papers large and small across the country urging support of biodiesel and the RFS. Members hosted their senators and representatives at their facilities to show firsthand the negative impact of policy uncertainty on their businesses. Hundreds of meetings took place on the Hill throughout the year through coordinated NBB member fly-ins, staff meetings and members’ individual efforts.

While this list doesn’t come close to the exhaustive efforts of NBB staff and members during the year, it does show that when faced with a challenge, the people in our industry rise to the occasion.

The RFS is the only comprehensive energy policy in the transportation fuels sector and, when allowed to work, it can have a great impact in diversifying our transportation energy supply with cleaner burning, renewable fuels. This policy, for all its flaws in execution, has been the single biggest driver of our industry growth the past four years. As painful as a two-year long political fight is, it is absolutely worth it. We have no other choice but to keep pushing forward and to keep fighting onward.

Biodiesel’s long-term future is still a bright one. Despite all the challenges, we are still the fastest growing advanced biofuel produced in the U.S. With current production estimates coming in between 1.6 and 1.7 billion gallons for 2014, our industry is on track for four straight years of more than a billion gallons of production, and four straight years of exceeding EPA’s minimum volume requirements under the RFS. More OEMs support high blends, more states and cities have blend requirements, and biodiesel is in more markets than ever before. This isn’t something that simply happens on its own. This comes from hard work, long-term vision, and the execution of effective state and federal policies.

EPA and this administration have stated that they are committed to getting this program back on track in 2015. Everyone in the biodiesel industry is certainly supportive of this goal. Future growth of the RFS beyond 2015 was all about growing advanced biofuels. As America’s first, and currently, only commercially successful advanced biofuel, biodiesel must continue to lead if the RFS is going to succeed. We can succeed and we will. Despite huge challenges and misinformation to the contrary, biodiesel has caused the goals of the entire advanced biofuel category to be met and exceeded every year. Now is no time to stop. In fact, 2015 is the turning point year to get the program on a predictable, stable and sustainable path.

Joe Jobe, CEO, National Biodiesel Board

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