Fueling Growth in the Biodiesel Industry

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, recaps some of the more notable progress the U.S. biodiesel industry and its national association have made over the past year.
By Donnell Rehagen | October 23, 2018

As we near the end of 2018, the biodiesel industry has seen some significant progress as we work towards sustainable industry growth. Today, biodiesel is creating an impact and presence in the current marketplace and is showing up as a leading player in the fuels industry.

The National Biodiesel Fair Trade Coalition’s trade petitions, filed in 2017, against Argentina and Indonesia have, in fact, leveled the playing field as we set out to do. With agreement from the International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce that these countries were involved in subsidizing and dumping biodiesel into the U.S., the duties applied to those products have made their entry into the U.S. nearly disappear. The result is a domestic market that, in 2018, has seen growth in demand and improved margins.

Today, biodiesel is the No. 1 alternative fuel choice for fleets, according to the National Work Truck Association and American Transportation Research Institute 2018 Survey. With between 2.6 and 2.9 billion gallons of biodiesel consumed each of the past two years, biodiesel accounts for nearly 5 percent of the on-road diesel volumes. We also continue to see higher blends, B20 and above, gain greater market acceptance around the country.

Our nation’s attention to fossil fuels and their carbon emissions continues to grow as well. A recent life cycle analysis (LCA) published by Argonne National Laboratory, the USDA and others note that biodiesel could achieve up to a 72 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With this in mind, states and regions of the country are enacting policies to reduce their carbon and GHG emissions and renewable fuels are looked to for these policy objectives to be reached. Whether it is the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in California or the targets New York City has put into place, policymakers across the country are increasingly taking the bull by the horns and providing clear strategies for these emissions reductions goals. I would expect to see these types of policies continue to grow and multiply across the country over the coming years.

Along with significant increases in on-road use, the industry is also seeing expansion in the Bioheat market. Biodiesel in the home heating oil sector, which is a 5 billion-gallon market, has seen substantial growth over the past several years and has the potential for additional strong growth over the coming years. Our partnership with the heating oil industry has not only improved the perception of its product but has also increased consumer and policymaker awareness of biodiesel in the Northeast. This increased awareness has helped in our federal policy efforts by allowing us to build supporters on Capitol Hill from congressional districts that just a few years ago would have been ambivalent to biodiesel.

With each year, NBB is proud to be the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers and fuel distributors, as well as the U.S. renewable diesel industry. Our industry has so many great stories and is doing so many great things to impact people’s lives: Improving emissions, creating value for biodiesel feedstocks and coproducts, and supporting more than 64,000 jobs in the U.S. are just a few. Working alongside you, NBB will continue to lead the fight for even better days in this industry. We must all continue to roll up our sleeves and keep educating consumers and policymakers on why more biodiesel is the right thing to do for this nation.

Donnell Rehagen
National Biodiesel Board

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