Biodiesel industry focuses on RFS this year

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, February 8, 2012 -Even though biodiesel producers are facing the same situation this year that it did in 2010 when expiration of the biodiesel tax incentive crippled production, the most important issue for the industry in 2012 is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

“We have to be absolutely committed to the success and protection of the RFS as our top priority,” said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe in his address to the general session of the industry's annual meeting in Orlando this week.  “2011 demonstrated that the RFS can work at doing what Congress intended, which is to draw renewable fuels into the market.”

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Jobe told the 1,000 industry attendees at the National Biodiesel Conference that 2011 was one of the most dramatic comeback stories for an industry in recent memory. “After production volumes dropped by more than half over the last two years, this industry hung in there, pulled itself up to over 300% growth in a single year - our first billion-gallon year ever,” he said.

However, Jobe noted that the immediate challenge before the industry now is keeping that momentum going by getting 2013 volumes for biomass-based diesel increased under the RFS2.

“The EPA recommended that we raise those volumes from the statutory minimum of a billion gallons to 1.28 billion gallons,” said Jobe. However, the Office of Management and Budget has postponed final approval of those volumes until sometime this month. 

“Our industry must be allowed to have conservative growth under the RFS or we will stagnate,” Jobe said, calling on the biodiesel industry to make its collective voice heard on the issue in Washington.

While the RFS is the top priority for the biodiesel industry, NBB president Gary Haer of Renewable Energy Group says the production tax incentive must be restored since biodiesel is still the only commercially available advanced biofuel.

“Our industry does need to mature a little bit more and the tax incentive helps us do that,” he said. “The incentive also helps our petroleum partners build out the infrastructure that's needed to blend biodiesel and make it available across the country.”

Another important issue on the biodiesel priority list for 2012 is the integrity of Renewable Identification Numbers, better known as RINs. Haer will be appointing an RIN Integrity Task force that will include obligated parties, biodiesel producers and representatives of EPA to study the problem of RIN fraud and come up with ways to combat it. "It is our job to protect the RFS and to work with EPA and others to make the system better,” he said.

Attendance at the annual biodiesel meeting was up this year and the mood was undeniably positive after a great 2011. Haer says he wants the momentum to continue, not just for the biodiesel industry, but for the country as a whole.

“If we can grow the Renewable Fuel Standard to more than a billion gallons, that will provide and support over 50,000 new jobs,” he said. “Not only is it new jobs, but it keeps energy dollars within the U.S. economy. And that's good for our nation.”



Original story printed in February 8, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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