US biodiesel production, imports strong despite lapsed tax credit
U.S. production and imports of biomass-based diesel remain strong so far early this year despite the lapsed federal biodiesel blenders tax credit and delayed implementation of the 2017 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which were on hold until March 21 as part of the regulatory freeze pending review ordered Jan. 20 by the incoming Trump administration.
According to U.S. EPA’s EMTS data on RIN generation, volumes of biodiesel and renewable diesel associated with D4 RIN generation for January and February approached 265 million gallons combined, surpassing last year’s figures for the same period when the tax credit was in effect. Of the nearly 265 million gallons, more than 182 million gallons was produced domestically, with more than 82 million gallons of imported product generating D4 RINs in the first two months of this year. Any D6 renewable diesel or biodiesel from palm oil that may have entered the U.S. so far in 2017 would not be included in these EMTS figures, and corroborating import data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration has yet to be published.
Last year, the U.S. imported nearly 693 million gallons of biodiesel and 223 million gallons of renewable diesel, according to EIA data—a record volume totaling more than 915 million gallons of biomass-based diesel. Argentina alone exported 444 million gallons of biodiesel to the U.S. last year, with Indonesia and Canada rounding out the top three supplying nations of U.S. imported biodiesel.
In 2016, U.S. domestic production also hit new heights, with D4-qualified biodiesel and renewable diesel volumes surpassing 1.9 billion gallons, according to EPA’s EMTS data.
This year, while the 60-day regulatory freeze pending review ordered Jan. 20 delayed implementation of the 2017 RVOs for conventional and advanced biofuels and the 2018 RVO of 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel, the 2017 biomass-based diesel RVO of 2 billion gallons was finalized in late 2015 and, therefore, was not affected by the freeze.