Call to action: NBB enlists help to boost 2014 RFS volumes

By Ron Kotrba | October 24, 2013

The National Biodiesel Board has launched an advocacy campaign on the pending 2014 renewable fuel standard (RFS) proposal, and the U.S. EPA draft proposal that was leaked earlier this month. The leaked draft proposal suggests EPA plans to stall the biomass-based diesel carve-out at 1.28 billion gallons next year, while lowering the advanced biofuel requirement to 2.21 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons from the statutory requirement of 3.75 billion gallons. Biodiesel producers from around the country are writing letters and calling their members of Congress and officials in the Obama administration sounding the alarm about how damaging the proposal would be to the industry, and to America’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy security, diversify fuel supplies and create green-collar jobs. The NBB projects the U.S. biodiesel industry will produce 1.7 billion gallons this year. Thanks to NBB’s Fueling Action Center, sending a letter takes less than a minute. Click here to send a letter to officials at the EPA, the Office of Management and Budget, the White House Office of Energy and Climate Policy, and the USDA.

“This proposal just doesn’t make sense to us,” said Mike Noble, president of Hero BX, a biodiesel producer in Erie, Pa. “This industry is growing and it’s meeting the advanced biofuels goals of the RFS, so to see the administration potentially rolling back that success at this point is very frustrating. Our company, like many others in the industry, is in growth mode. We have almost completed a $6 million expansion project at our Erie, Pa., facility and are trying to add jobs but this proposal would have a severe chilling effect on our continued growth. It would also have a definite limiting effect on the usefulness of the current project.”

Anne Steckel, NBB vice president of federal affairs, said, “Frankly, we were alarmed by this leaked draft. We know that the Obama administration has been a strong supporter of renewable fuels, and particularly advanced biofuels like biodiesel. And it’s working. Biodiesel has exceeded RFS volume requirements every year and will do so again this year. If this draft reflects the actual proposal, our industry would be devastated.” She said this would represent a 25 percent decrease from this year’s projected production. “It would lead to dozens of plants closing and thousands of lost jobs,” Steckel said. “It would also sincerely inhibit financing and investment in the industry going forward. So we are trying to convey our sense of urgency to the administration that this would really be a huge step backward for advanced biofuels and the RFS.”

The leaked draft also suggests the agency will propose lowering the ethanol volume requirement from 14.4 billion gallons to 13 billion gallons. Even so, the American Petroleum Institute is still not happy. “EPA must lower increasing ethanol mandates in its RFS proposal for 2014 in order to protect consumers and our economy from a looming disaster until Congress can repeal the program once and for all,” API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco told reporters in a conference call Oct. 24. “In our meetings with EPA and OMB officials, we’ve asked the agency to set 2014 total ethanol requirements at or below 9.7 percent of projected gasoline demand. By EIA’s latest projection, that would mean lowering the mandate to, at most, 12.9 billion gallons of ethanol. This would help us avoid the ethanol blend wall for now while also preserving the availability of ethanol-free gasoline for consumers who demand it.”

Zach Hamm, president of Triangle Biofuels, a biodiesel producer in Wilson, N.C., said, “Our industry is still in a stage where it needs support. Uncertainty with the RFS means uncertainty in our industry, which means uncertainty in my business and the employees who work here. We need a cool, even hand from Congress and the EPA if we are going to see this industry succeed. Customers, vendors, investors and financiers all want consistency and predictable growth. This proposal would offer very little of either.”

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