Industry advocacy helps get RFS volume growth back on track

By The National Biodiesel Board | January 19, 2016

October 2015 was the two-year anniversary of the leaked draft renewable volume obligation (RVO) proposal from the U.S. EPA that signaled the agency’s intention to stall biomass-based diesel at 1.28 billion gallons for at least two years.

“That devastating leaked draft launched us on a two-year odyssey that cast the future of the industry into a state of limbo,” said Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs. “EPA proposed the rule in the fall of 2013 and stated multiple times that they would improve the rule by spring of 2014. In December 2014, still without a final rule, they withdrew the proposed rule and said they would issue a revised proposed 2014 rule, sometime in 2015, and try to issue a final 2014 rule by the end of 2015.”

That much-improved revised proposed rule came in June of 2015, and EPA officially righted the renewable fuel standard (RFS) ship with a final rule Nov. 30, 2015.

The improved rule that grew both biomass-based diesel and overall advanced biofuel volumes came after NBB mobilized an aggressive advocacy campaign opposing the original proposal.

“We generated more congressional support than we’ve ever had, with nearly 100 lawmakers signing letters to the White House calling for growth and powerful lawmakers holding press conferences or calling the White House directly,” said Steckel. “We engineered an aggressive media campaign that saw several hundred op-eds, letters, and news stories published. And we organized an aggressive grassroots campaign that raised the profile of biodiesel in Washington and increased pressure on policy makers to act.”

While the volumes weren’t as high as NBB advocated for, they were significantly higher than the original 2013 proposal at 1.28 billion gallons per year. The November decision was also significant as it returned the RFS rulemaking process to the timeline in the statute.

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