San Diego, Ca. – When the perfect play is called on the football field and it's working exactly as it was drawn up, nothing is more deflating than to see a fumble on the way to the end zone. The same could be said of a bi-partisan federal initiative that is working successfully as intended and rulemakers drop the ball. And, like the crowd leaping to its feet when the football spills out onto the field, biodiesel industry supporters are out of their seats, standing strong against a federal rule that could change the game.
“The details of this particular program may be too far in the weeds for most consumers, but the impacts to our future transportation fuels landscape are not,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, as the industry assembles in San Diego for the 11th Annual Biodiesel Conference & Expo.
“Right now, petroleum is winning,” he said. “The score is reflected in a proposed federal rule that would take recent record biodiesel production and effectively cut it in half. The proposed rule is a call for retreat in the face of a successful renewable energy program, a fumble when a major victory for the environment, energy security and our economy is on the line.
“But we’re on offense now, driving our opponents back, and we’re not going to quit until we’ve changed the score,” Jobe said.
At the center of the challenge is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a sensible policy to increase diversity in transportation fuels. Recognizing the America’s national security, economic and environmental interests it was originally established in 2005 by a bipartisan coalition in Congress. After biodiesel – the first and only advanced biofuel to achieve national market penetration – was added to the program two years later, the industry has played a significant role in making the program a success.
Total advanced biofuel requirements, one fuel segment the RFS tracks, have been met or exceeded every single year of the program. That is despite the fact that cellulosic ethanol, one type of advanced biofuel, has developed more slowly than expected. Yet in its draft rule for the RFS, the EPA has now proposed a biodiesel target of 1.28 billion gallons, down sharply from estimated 2013 production of 1.7 billion gallons and the industry’s annualized production rate of about 2 billion gallons since July. That proposal is under a 60-day comment period that ends January 28.
Biodiesel qualified for the EPA’s definition of an Advanced Biofuel by cutting carbon emissions by as much as 86 percent. Produced in virtually every state, the industry supports some 62,000 jobs nationwide.
As many as 1500 producers, marketers, suppliers, funders, retailers, researchers and biodiesel users will gather at the San Diego Convention Center this week. They will share the latest information and technology, but more than anything, they will stand strong to make their voices heard at the EPA. The signature event of the industry will offer a springboard for both the proposal comment period and the year ahead.
The conference will again open its doors to anyone wanting to learn more about biodiesel on Wednesday. San Diego residents with a valid, local identification are invited to attend the General Session and Ride & Drive events on January 22 between 10 and 2.