Biodiesel Plants Closing Due to RFS Uncertainty

nbb-advancedThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately establish biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard to avoid further damage to the industry.

In a telephone press conference Friday morning, NBB officials highlighted fallout from the ongoing failure of EPA to establish functioning renewable fuels policy for the second consecutive year and said the recent decision to allow streamlined imports of biodiesel from Argentina under the RFS has only added new urgency to the need for stable policy.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, a former biodiesel producer and NBB Governing Board Member Ben Wootton challenged recent comments suggesting that the RFS delays haven’t hurt renewable fuels industries. Wootton lost his Pennsylvania biodiesel plant, Keystone Biofuels, in bankruptcy last year as a result of RFS uncertainty. In his letter, he explained to McCarthy how the loss of his plant also forced him to lay off 30 employees and caused him to lose his daughters’ college funds and his retirement savings.

“I would invite Administrator McCarthy to come to my shuttered plant and talk to some of the laid off workers, or to visit practically any biodiesel plant across the country to see the damage that is taking place,” Wootton said. “It is obvious that this administration doesn’t understand the severe damage that the uncertainty surrounding this rule has caused our industry and the thousands of employees it represents. It is beyond frustrating that an Administration I have strongly supported has inflicted so much harm on an industry it says it supports.”

NBB CEO Joe Jobe says the EPA decision regarding imports of Argentinian biodiesel has just exacerbated the difficulties facing the industry. “It is shocking that at a time when our renewable fuels policy is in a shambles, the EPA has essentially greenlighted biodiesel imports from Argentina to qualify for the RFS, with very little oversight or verification that the resources used to make the fuel will be grown under the normal RFS sustainability requirements,” said Jobe. “We have done everything we can for two years to help this Administration develop reasonable policy that matches President Obama’s stated support for renewable fuels, but we are at wit’s end. We are desperately searching for any indication that this support actually exists.”

Listen to the press conference, which also includes comments from NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel, here: National Biodiesel press conference on RFS uncertainty

Inspiring Words from Inspiring Biodiesel Advocate

nbc-15-andersonThere are many in the biodiesel industry who serve as inspirations, but maybe none as much as Greg Anderson with the Nebraska Soybean Board. The soybean farmer has been a long-time biodiesel advocate and has shown his full-time devotion to his fellow soybean farmers and the biodiesel industry in so many ways. Even after suffering a near-fatal accident involving a propane tank explosion on the family farm back in Nebraska this past August, he remained positive, grateful, and upbeat during his recovery from the painful injuries. And during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, he reminded the group gathered for the Eye on Biodiesel Awards, of which he is the Inspiration winner, of just how safe biodiesel is.

“Biodiesel is the safest of all fuels to handle, transport and store. I’ll be towing biodiesel from now on,” he said with an inspirational smile and applause from the crowd.

Greg said while his recovery was painful, he was helped by all the support of so many people. He found himself thankful for not only his life but a full recovery. He likens his recovery to the recovery the biodiesel industry is having to face now. He also reminded the group not to forget what’s important in life.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what we accomplished or the material possessions that we have. But it’s truly about making others better, inspiring others, really giving back. And I’ve been blessed so much by you all.”

Listen to Greg’s inspiring remarks here: Greg Anderson

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Innovations Helped Grow Biodiesel Industry

nbc-15-butcherIt’s many of the innovations that have helped grow biodiesel from what could be considered just a cottage industry not that long ago to the major fuel it is today. During the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Tom Butcher from Brookhaven National Laboratory was recognized for his contributions to the industry. He told the group that as a researcher, he has worked on a lot of different energy technologies and was impressed with biodiesel’s impact.

“The impact that it’s had on the Northeast, the impact on the heating oil industry across the country. This is an industry that because of biodiesel has been rejuvenated,” he said.

Tom played an instrumental role in the technical research that has been done over the last six years that formed the basis for the balloting of performance specifications for 6 percent to 20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil as a new fuel grade in the ASTM D396 fuel oil standard. His groundbreaking work documenting the positive field experience with biodiesel blends and providing the research background were major factors in addressing questions brought up by the NORA/NBB-lead Bioheat Technical Steering Committee.

He concluded saying he was lucky to be part of this group and is looking forward to the innovations of the future.

Listen to Tom’s remarks here: Tom Butcher

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

First Biodiesel Mandate Cited in Influence Award

nbc-15-schoenfeldThe mandate that inspired other states to put in their own biodiesel requirements and the man who helped start it all were recognized during the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Jerry Schoenfeld of Minneapolis-based Greater States Advisors picked up the Eye on Biodiesel Influence Award for his instrumental part in the development, passage, and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota after soybean growers came to him in 2000.

He admits he didn’t know much about biodiesel back then, as there was just 2 million gallons produced nationwide each year – a dramatic difference from today’s 1.8 BILLION gallons annually. Jerry said he had to work with a state legislature that was split between Republicans and Democrats and an Independent governor. The nation’s first 2 percent biodiesel standard for all diesel was finally made into law and served as a blueprint for other states’ mandates.

“In many ways, that measure worked, along with many others in your respective states,” Jerry told the group. He added that working with the split legislature and governor’s office taught him important lessons in legislative matters. “If you work hard and you keep at it, you will succeed. And secondly, you can’t always assume who your friends and who your enemies are, because on any given day, different politicians will be both!”

Listen to Jerry’s remarks here: Interview with Jerry Schoenfeld, biodiesel award winner

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Conference Honors Franken for Impact

nbc-15-frankenA long-time advocate for biodiesel was honored during the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota was honored with the the 2015 “Eye on Biodiesel” Impact award for his work for biodiesel in Washington, taking a particular leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes.

Sen. Franken has helped organize his Senate colleagues in holding meetings on the issue with senior Administration leaders. He has coordinated advocacy letters from members of Congress. And he has spoken out publicly to highlight biodiesel’s benefits in Minnesota and across the country as he fought for a strong RFS. Additionally, Sen. Franken has been a consistent and vocal advocate for the biodiesel tax incentive. His advocacy and leadership have been instrumental in helping to develop a policy environment in which biodiesel can continue to grow.

In recorded remarks played for the crowd gathered at the conference, Franken thanked the group for the honor and reiterated his opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposal to cut biodiesel requirement under the RFS to 1.3 billion gallons annually.

“Our annual biodiesel production meets and even exceeds the expectations set in the [RFS]. Last year, you produced 1.8 billion gallons – each one of those gallons is helping improve our energy security and creating good jobs here at home,” said Franken, pointing out that he’s talked with anyone who would listen in the administration, including President Obama, telling them all how opposed he was to the proposal. “We need a strong RFS, not a weak one.”

Franken vows to keep fighting for the biodiesel industry, also working to reinstate the federal biodiesel tax credit.

“It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing Big Oil, while letting investments in clean, homegrown energy, like biodiesel, lapse.”

Listen to Franken’s remarks here: Sen. Al Franken speaks to biodiesel conference by video

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Pioneer Honored at Conference

Eye on Biodiesel PioneerLast year the biodiesel industry lost a pioneer who has had a huge impact. He was honored with this year’s Eye on Biodiesel – Pioneer Award. On stage at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo to honor him were several people for whom he had a very personal impact and accepting the award was his brother Scott Hanks.

Dallas Hanks.

The biodiesel industry lost a true pioneer with the passing of Utah State University’s Dr. Dallas Hanks last June when he succumbed to cancer. For those that knew him, Dallas was a brilliant scientist, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and all around good person. He spearheaded the visionary feedstock program Freeways to Fuels, was a huge supporter and contributor to NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program, and had a hand in numerous oilseed test plots, biodiesel laboratories, and technology start-up business at the university and around the region. The respect he had from his peers was second to none, and he has left a truly lasting legacy in the biodiesel world.

You can listen to the remarks in honor of Dallas here: Remarks in Honor of Dallas Hanks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

John Deere Green Goes Well with Green Biodiesel

nbc-15-greg-grevingA Nebraska farmer who proudly admits he bleeds John Deere green also admits a pretty high affection for the green fuel, biodiesel. Greg Greving, who farms in Central Nebraska and is a board member of the Nebraska Soybean Board, told attendees of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo that biodiesel is what powers his equipment.

“This fall, my two boys, two hired men and myself, harvested 11,000 acres in 56 days [all running on biodiesel], and the only time we shut down was when we were tired,” he said. “We have not had any trouble running biodiesel.”

But Greg was doing more than just bragging about his Deere equipment and biodiesel. He was invited to the showcase to show off his 1980 Oldsmobile 98 Regency with a 5.7 GM diesel engine, in which he also uses biodiesel. Whether it’s his car or the farm equipment he runs, fuel quality is of the utmost importance. That’s important to hear, as the National Biodiesel Board announced its new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

You can hear to Greg’s remarks here: Greg Greving, Nebraska Soybean Board at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel & Vehicles On Display at NBB Conference

nbc-15-steve-howellOne of the highlights of this year’s National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, as it is every year, was the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event, where vehicle makers gave us a sneak peek at what’s coming from them that runs on biodiesel. Steve Howell, the National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) senior technical advisor, said when the industry started more than 20 years ago, they had a very modest goal of producing 30 million gallons of biodiesel nationwide annually. Now, an average plant cranks out that much each. He credits working with partners in the automaking industry for the increase.

“We’ve done the work necessary to answer the questions that they have about biodiesel in the engines of vehicles,” he said. “Because if we answer their questions, we know we’ve answered customers’ questions.”

Steve said that close, working relationship is highlighted by the biodiesel industry’s constant outreach to the vehicle makers and the fuel industry to ask what can biodiesel do for them next, such as oxidation stability and metals content. “So that these new technology diesel engines that have better fuel economy and cleaner emissions work with biodiesel blends.”

He thanked the partners participating in not only this showcase, but the biodiesel industry, including John Deere, Ford, Volkswagen, Hino Trucks, General Motors, Peterbilt, and the Diesel Technology Forum, as well as funding they’ve received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, United Soybean Board and state soybean boards.

“We’re doing efforts to educate engine companies, to educate dealers, and all that’s possible through that funding and the work done by NBB so we can all enjoy the benefits of biodiesel in our vehicles.”

You can hear to Steve’s remarks here: Steve Howell at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

New Quality Program Talk of Biodiesel Conference

nbc-15-scott-fenwickIt’s fuel quality that has brought the biodiesel industry to where it is today, and that standard looks to be extended all the way to consumers’ fuel tanks. Scott Fenwick, the National Biodiesel Board’s technical director told attendees of the recent National Biodiesel Conference & Expo that the National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (NBAC), better known as BQ-9000, a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of companies that produce, test, and supply biodiesel fuel, serves as a key link between the industry, the producers, the blenders and marketers with the consumers.

“Up until today, we’ve had programs in place for producers, marketers and independent labs doing that testing. Today, a new program for BQ-9000 retailers will be the last remaining cog to that continuum of fuel quality,” Scott said.

He added that more than 90 percent of the biodiesel produced comes from BQ-9000 producers. NBB’s partners in the biodiesel industry wanted this new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

The program will be forwarded to all NBB member companies for comments for 30 days, with a final review and release of the findings later in March.

You can hear to Scott’s remarks here: Scott Fenwick at Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Iowa Coalition to Promote RFS as Candidate

americas-futureIowa Governor Terry Branstad today announced a major new bi-partisan campaign called America’s Renewable Future that will promote the Renewable Fuel Standard in the 2016 Iowa Presidential caucuses.

“I’m very passionate about the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Governor Branstad during a conference call to announce the effort. “It’s made a real difference for farm income and good jobs, reducing our dependency on foreign oil, improving the environment – so I’m really excited to see this strong, bi-partisan effort being made to educate people that come to Iowa and presidential candidates.”

America’s Renewable Future will be co-chaired by former Iowa State Representative Annette Sweeney, a Republican, and former state Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, a Democrat, as well as Iowa renewable fuels industry leader Bill Couser.

Sweeney, who is a corn, soybean and cattle producer, says it’s important to educate lawmakers and the public about the RFS. “Once it’s explained, (they see) what a great thing renewable fuels are for this country,” she said.

Coordinating the effort will be Governor Branstad’s son Eric, a public affairs specialist and campaign operative. “We have partners coming in from all over the country and those partners have committed millions to fund this effort,” said Eric Branstad. “We are designing it to look like a presidential campaign and the RFS is our candidate.”

From now until the Iowa Caucuses, America’s Renewable Future “will wage a mulitimillion dollar, multi-platform effort” to educate presidential candidates about the benefits of the RFS and ask them to take a stand.

“It’s such a privilege to be able to be part of this grassroots organization and being able to bring these candidates to our farms and our feedlots,” said Couser, who is a livestock and crop producer and ethanol plant co-founder. “We’re very excited about meeting these candidates on a bi-partisan partnership, bringing them here and educating them.”

The group also intends to build a statewide campaign organization to educate Iowa caucus-goers in both parties about which candidates support the RFS. The campaign will include advertising, earned media, public opinion research, stakeholder engagement, digital and social media outreach.

Listen to the conference call announcing the effort here: America's Renewable Future campaign announced

Matt Blunt Delivers Message to NBB Attendees

Matt BluntIt was good to see former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt on stage today at the National Biodiesel Conference. Matt accomplished great things for the industry during his time in office. He is now the President of the American Automotive Policy Council and lives in Virginia. By the way, he also has a small herd of beef cattle.

Matt took the stage today to deliver a powerful speech. Here are a few excerpts from it and you can listen to his full speech below.

American ingenuity and perseverance are expanding energy supplies across the board– and biodiesel is no exception. Americans would much rather have American farmers working to fuel our transportation industry than foreign leaders who do not share our values or our commitment to free government.

As both a former governor and a Naval officer I can tell you energy security remains among biofuels’ most important benefits.

Sending billions of dollars every year to nations that do not share the interests of the United States is clearly not an ideal public policy

Growing our own fuel is growing agriculture in Missouri and across the country. With soybean production in 2014 at a record level of nearly a billion bushels, soybeans are the second-most-planted field crop in the United States after corn.

And the United States is the leading soybean producer and exporter.

As new fuels enter the marketplace, whether biodiesel, renewable diesel or any other product, it is important that existing fuels remain readily available to fuel vehicles currently on the road, in order to protect consumers and their vehicle warranties.

It is essential that the auto industry and government stakeholders continue to work collaboratively to ensure the diversification of the U.S. transportation fuel supply occurs in a manner that is technologically and economically feasible, and in no way harms consumers.

You can listen to Matt’s speech here: Matt Blunt speech at biodiesel conference

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

NBB Chairman’s Report

Steven LevySteven Levy, Chair for the National Biodiesel Board took the stage this morning to provide an inspiring message to members who have been facing some serious odds in the last couple years. But he told everyone about how important it is to keep trying in order to obtain success using a quote from Thomas Edison.

Across the biodiesel industry, we’re not just trying to accomplish something – we are delivering. Part of the impetus for our success is the strength of our combined expertise and collaboration.

Ultimately, Edison didn’t succeed alone. He pioneered the concept of a collaborative lab, drawing on the knowledge and talent of a diverse group of creative scientists and engineers.

Likewise, NBB taps the technical expertise and business acumen of our members – and merges that powerful talent base with the specialized skills and knowledge of our leaders, our staff, and our consulting experts.

Working together, we are far more effective, far more formidable, and far more unstoppable in our mission.

You can listen to Steven’s remarks here: NBB Chair Steven Levy Remarks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Legislative Discussion from NBB

NBB Legislative UpdateSince we’ve had politics dominating the discussion since last night why not have a little bit more?

National Biodiesel Conference attendees got a very good legislative update this morning from Anne Steckel, NBB, Vice President of Federal Affairs. Her session included a question and answer session with Byron Dorgan, a senior policy advisor, author, professor, and former Senator from North Dakota and Kenny Hulshof, Vice Chair for Public Policy at Polsinelli, and is a former Congressman from Missouri.

Anne told us that like last year, the two big battles will be for a strong RFS rule and for reinstatement of a longer-term tax incentive. She then shared the NBB plan for how to work on accomplishing victory this year.

When it came time for Q&A one of the best quotes of the day came from Byron Dorgan. Anne asked him how it’s possible that we’re in 2015 and still don’t have numbers for 2014. His answer was “Because there’s no maximum level of embarrassment.” (in Washington, DC). I think you’ll enjoy the exchange with these two panel members.

You can listen to Anne’s remarks and the discussion with Dorgan and Hulshof here: NBB Legislative Forum

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Joe Jobe Meets the Press

Joe Jobe and PressAfter this morning’s general session during the National Biodiesel Conference NBB CEO Joe Jobe met with the press. This gave reporters a chance to ask specific questions about not only his earlier speech but also more background and details on what is happening (or not happening) with the RFS and tax credits.

I thought it was interesting that a point was made in reference to this being a republican vs. democrat issue that it’s more of a regional issue where you have many areas with bipartisan agreement and others that don’t.

Learn more about these issues by listening in on the press conference.

You can listen to the press conference here: NBB CEO Joe Jobe Press Conference

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Fiery Biodiesel Industry Speech

Joe JobeTalking about how much the truth matters and calling for cooperation from the petroleum industry Joe Jobe, CEO, National Biodiesel Board, got attendees fired up this morning during his opening general session speech. He received a standing ovation at the end of the speech when he loudly proclaimed:

2015 is the year we get back to the future of this program. Back to the future of this industry and this country. We are the ones on the right side of history, and we have a powerful force on our side. The truth. So rise up with me people. Rise up and tell our story. Rise up and take the RFS back in 2015.

Only by diversifying the transportation fuels market and providing competition to crude oil can the U.S. truly achieve energy security, he explained.

“The RFS is a good policy – it is pro-competitive, pro-consumer, free-market capitalist policy,” Jobe said. And, “2015 was intended to be a turning point for the RFS,” he said. “For the first seven years, conventional biofuel was designed to lead the growth in volumes until 2015 where conventional biofuel is statutorily capped at 15 billion gallons. From 2015 on, advanced biofuels are intended to lead the growth of the program. And so far, biomass-based diesel has emerged as the only domestically-produced, fully commercialized advanced biofuel.”

You can listen to Joe’s full speech here: NBB CEO Joe Jobe Speech

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album