Market challenges, policy to take center stage at biodiesel show

By The National Biodiesel Board | January 08, 2015

The end of 2014 delivered two powerful shocks to the transportation fuels sector. First, OPEC refused to decrease oil production to offset reduced demand, leading to the lowest oil prices in years. Then, the U.S. EPA announced it would finish the year without setting annual federal renewable fuels volume requirements for gas and diesel distributors.

Those burning energy issues and more will be hot topics at the annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo Jan. 19-22 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. And with demonstrations and discussions among thousands of biodiesel producers, distributors and enthusiasts in store, local residents are invited to come learn more for themselves on the second day of the big show.

“With a new Congress convening in Washington, D.C., promising significant new legislation aimed at biofuels and the energy sector, it just makes sense that we will be highlighting some of these same issues in the heart of the of domestic oil and gas industry,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board.

This will be the 12th straight year NBB will produce the premier U.S. biodiesel event. Highlights of this year’s conference and expo include:

-An opportunity for attendees and the public to test biodiesel vehicles at a unique ride-and-drive experience.

-Automakers and fleets will display their latest cars and trucks at the vehicle showcase.

-Texas fleet managers will share their experiences with biodiesel and how it’s making a difference in the Lone Star State.

-A session on biodiesel infused heating oil shaking up the industry.

-And much, much more.

But energy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations. 

Of particular importance to biofuel producers is the fate of the renewable fuel standard (RFS), the federal policy enacted under President George W. Bush with bipartisan support that ensures minimum volumes of biodiesel and other renewables are blended into the fuel supply. The year ended clouded in controversy as the EPA never finalized a rule for 2014’s volume requirements.

“Without a rule in place,” Jobe said, “biodiesel producers are hesitant to invest in their businesses and employees. In some cases, the uncertainty over the EPA potentially scaling back volume requirements has led some producers to shutter plants and lay off staff. The industry needs confidence that the federal government is committed to advanced biofuels and supportive of our growth.”

Biodiesel, made from a variety of resources including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil, and animal fats, is the first advanced biofuel to produce more than a billion gallons of fuel three years running. In fact, at 1.7 billion gallons annual production, biodiesel currently supplies about 5 percent of the on-road diesel market.

“Our producers are trying to penetrate a market that has been dominated by the oil industry—with many subsidized advantages—for nearly a century,” Jobe continued. “Everyone agrees competition is a good thing. We need predictability in the RFS to help generate that competition and let it take on a life of its own from there.”


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