Year in review: NBB helps pave the way for our energy independence, economy and environment

By Darryl Brinkmann | December 01, 2005
What a year it's been. If anybody had told me what this year-the year I became chairman of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB)-would bring, I may have winced at the thought of how neglected my own soybean crop would become. But something much more important than my own crop grew to heights I have always hoped for.

While the industry's growth may have exceeded what anyone expected, it is no more than this product deserves. The reason for the emerging success of biodiesel now is because of the many dedicated industry leaders working behind the scenes to fit the puzzle pieces together. Consumers are realizing all the benefits of biodiesel, and realizing it at a time that could not be more pertinent. There is no place I'd rather be than witnessing the growth of this industry that farmers like myself and other industry players helped to develop from its infancy. The NBB has served as the chord that holds all those voices together.

The federal biodiesel tax credit took effect Jan. 1 to ultimately reduce the price of biodiesel. The NBB, the American Soybean Association and other stakeholders worked with Congressional champions, seeing to it that this important legislation became law. Hardly had the incentive passed when the energy bill extended it through 2008-a major accomplishment. Coupled with state initiatives set in motion oftentimes by NBB members, demand skyrocketed. Legislation helped catalyze more production plants, more fuel sales (75 million gallons estimated for 2005), and more fleets and individuals using biodiesel than ever before. Biodiesel is even available at some petroleum refineries for the first time.

In 2005, household names Jeep and John Deere catapulted biodiesel in the public eye. Thanks to forward-thinking companies DaimlerChrysler and John Deere, more vehicles and pieces of equipment are using biodiesel. These original equipment manufacturers are fueling their manufactured diesel products with biodiesel blends for the first time. This is a direct result of investment in working closely with OEMs, and that investment will continue in 2006 and beyond. NBB has initiated an $11 million project with the U.S. DOE and major diesel engine companies for 2007/2010 diesel engine technology. Findings are to make blends up to B20 significantly cleaner than the cleanest natural gas engines or hybrid vehicles of today

In concert with trucking advocate Willie Nelson, the NBB has helped to penetrate the trucking industry through outreach. Truckers are awakening to the benefits of biodiesel. As a result, the NBB has established, a new resource for the open road. 2006 will show how open that road truly is.

In addition to Nelson, other celebrities continue to sing the praises of biodiesel. Bonnie Raitt toured on B20 for a second time. Biodiesel powered the Farm Aid concert in Chicago. Morgan Freeman joined the board of Earth Biofuels. Neil Young, Woody Harrelson, Daryl Hannah and others helped spread the word on national television shows.

Of course, one of the most powerful endorsements of biodiesel came from the leader of the free world. When NBB-member Virginia Biodiesel hosted President George W. Bush this spring, the rising tide lifted all boats. It was the first time in history that a U.S. president visited a biodiesel plant. This is the first time a president spoke at length about the benefits of biodiesel on national television.

The NBB, through its farmer, fuel producer and technology members, and the support of biodiesel enthusiasts, is consistently gaining ground. This will ensure greater energy security, and economic and environmental benefits for all of us and generations to come. It was time well spent away from my soybean fields this year.

Darryl Brinkmann, Chairman
National Biodiesel Board
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