National Biodiesel Foundation Needs Your Support

John HeishorfferDuring the Super Bowl party at the National Biodiesel Conference you could support the National Biodiesel Foundation in several ways that included buying raffle tickets for a post-half time raffle. Also in progress is a silent auction for some very incredible items like an autographed album by the Beatles. If you’re at the conference the silent auction runs through Tuesday. Hint, hint.

I spoke about supporting the foundation with John Hiesdorffer, Iowa Soybean Association, pictured center. He describes the purpose of the foundation and how you can support it even if you’re not at the conference.

You can listen to my interview with John here: Interview with John Hiesdorffer

National Biodiesel Conference Outlook Bright

Joe JobeThe 2011 National Biodiesel Conference is underway and the party has started. The Super Bowl Party that is. Before the game the CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, Joe Jobe, played meet the press in the media room. He’s seen here being interviewed. I’ll be biodiesel blogging once again here on Domestic Fuel and on the Biodiesel Conference Blog.

I spoke with Joe to get an “advance” look at this year’s conference. Joe starts out by explaining what the ADVANCE theme means. He also says that there will be a good crowd of the right people who are here to get down to business at the beginning of what looks like a very promising year for the industry.

You can listen to my interview with Joe here: Interview with Joe Jobe

Biodiesel Board Chair Sees Advance in Biodiesel

The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo is just a few days away, set to begin on Sunday and run through Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, and the theme for the event in Phoenix, Arizona is “Advance” – reflecting the fact that biodiesel is classified as an advanced biofuel by EPA under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2). So it’s only fitting that the National Biodiesel Board’s chairman provides us with a preview of what will be talked about during the conference.

Gary Haer, who also serves as vice president of sales and marketing for REG (Renewable Energy Group), the nation’s largest biodiesel producer, talked about the future of the green fuel at last week’s Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. During a panel session entitled “Advanced Biofuels Panel – A Turning Point for Renewable Energy,” Haer said that after a very challenging 2010, where the industry held its breath nearly all year while waiting for Congress to finally renew the federal $1-a-gallon tax incentive, biodiesel is ready to move forward as the nation’s first advanced biofuel.

“By EPA definition, an advanced biofuel must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent. That gives us those environmental benefits, but it’s also good to note that biodiesel and advanced biofuels promote energy security … and they also contribute economic benefits for agriculture and rural America.”

Haer points out that biodiesel does not compete with food supplies and is more efficient than ever in the amount of energy used to produce each unit of energy. “Biodiesel continues to improve its energy balance. Today, it generates four units of energy for every unit consumed in the manufacturing and processing for finished product.”

Haer says the industry has plenty of capacity to meet the RFS2 requirements, as well as having enough feedstocks to produce the biodiesel to meet the increasing requirements. And he says there’s no new technology that has to be developed to meet that requirement. “With biodiesel, that next generation [of renewable fuels] is here today. The capacity, the industry is there. We’re ready to go, and we’re ready to utilize additional feedstock sources as they become commercially developed and commercially available.”

Haer admits there are some challenges out there, but the potential is so great. And he says since the stakes in the economy are so high, they must succeed.

“We’re providing jobs, and we’re providing green collar jobs for Americans. And we work hard to keep U.S. dollars in the U.S. economy.”

You can listen to Haer’s full remarks here: Gary Haer, NBB Chairman , as well as following along with his powerpoint presentation at this link.

DF Cast: New Year, New Legislation for Ethanol, Biodiesel

The new year brings talk of new legislation for the ethanol and biodiesel industries.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to some of the leaders of the green fuels’ industries, as well as the head of the nation’s largest farm organization, to get their takes on what should be coming from Washington, D.C. as far as ethanol and biodiesel legislation is involved.

Comments include American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman explaining why his group wants to shift the public money away from the ethanol blender’s credit towards infrastructure, despite the fact that there are many Farm Bureau members who have ethanol interests. Retired General Wesley Clark, who serves as co-chairman of Growth Energy, a group representing ethanol interests, agrees with Stallman’s assessment of moving more money toward infrastructure. Meanwhile, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the real focus needs to be on this nation’s energy policy and welcomes the debate. On the biodiesel side of the house, Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board and vice president of sales and marketing for the nation’s largest biodiesel producer, Renewable Energy Group, Gary Haer, says the green fuel enjoyed a Christmas gift with the renewal of the federal one-dollar-a-gallon biodiesel tax incentive, even though it’s set to expire again at the end of this year. And he says getting that incentive renewed is a big priority for the biodiesel industry in the coming year. Haer also talks about how the biodiesel industry needs to work on its image by making sure people know biodiesel is truly an advanced biofuel, available right now. Those efforts are helped by biodiesel’s partner, the United Soybean Board, whose chairman, Marc Curtis, a soybean grower from Mississippi, points out that biodiesel adds 25 cents to the price for every bushel of beans sold.

It’s an interesting conversation, and I’m sure we’ll hear even more during the biodiesel and ethanol industries respective conferences, both going on in Phoenix, Arizona in February. In the meantime, you can hear what these folks are saying about the legislative year to come in this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast here. Domestic Fuel Cast

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.:

Biodiesel Conference Registration Extended

Recognizing just how important the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo is to everyone with ties to the industry, our friends at the National Biodiesel Board have extended the deadline to register for the Feb. 6-9 event in Phoenix, Arizona to Feb. 1.

NBB CEO Joe Jobe says:

The uncertainty surrounding the biodiesel tax credit and the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard-2 made 2010 tough on all of us, to be sure. But we have high hopes that this conference will be the springboard to greater opportunities. In fact, 2011 has the potential to be a banner year for biodiesel production. The RFS2, now that it is fully implemented, will be the driving force behind biodiesel demand in 2011 and beyond. NBB recognizes that this relatively new legislation is still unclear to many in the industry. That’s why we are offering a comprehensive workshop, free with your full registration, which will dive into the “nuts and bolts” of the RFS2, featuring some of the top experts on the issue. This is truly a “can’t miss” event if you plan to be part of the biodiesel industry moving forward.

More information is available on the conference website. Plus, you can follow our coverage of the event on the conference blog!

Just a quick update …
The good folks at Renewable Energy Group (REG) will host their Corporate Update & 2011 Market Outlook at the biodiesel conference. Make sure to join them on Monday, Feb. 7, 2011 at the Phoenix Convention Center, North131C, 100 Level.

E-mail your RSVP to alicia.clancy@regfuel.com.

Biodiesel Board to Hold Symposium with Ford & GM

The National Biodiesel Board, along with auto industry partners Ford Motor Company and General Motors, will be holding a symposium at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit on Wednesday, January 12th from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. in Cobo Center’s Michigan Hall.

This NBB press release says the biodiesel symposium, entitled “Biodiesel: Powerful Fuel, Promising Future,” will highlight how biodiesel is and will be used to power “vehicles in a cleaner, greener, more sustainable manner”:

“We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to feature biodiesel as America’s first Advanced Biofuel to the global automotive industry,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “The U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2) established realistic goals of supplementing the nation’s fuel supply with advanced biofuels which reduce lifecycle carbon by more than 50 percent. Biodiesel is the first advanced biofuel to reach commercial scale production in North America, and it reduces direct lifecycle carbon by more than 80 percent. Biodiesel is thus very well-positioned to help the nation meet its immediate and long-term advanced biofuel goals.”

As part of the biodiesel symposium, General Motors and Ford are presenting information on their new 2011 diesel vehicles, which are all fully approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends (20 percent biodiesel blended with 80 percent petroleum diesel). General Motors extends B20 approval to its full diesel line-up, which includes the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-ups, as well as the Chevy Express and GMC Savana cargo vans. Ford supports the use of B20 on its full line of 2011 Ford Super Duty diesel trucks.

Jim Michon, Truck Fleet Marketing Manager for Ford Motor Company, said, “Many of our fleet customers are very conscious of the environment, and had been asking us for a truck approved for use with B20 biodiesel. In the process of developing our all-new Ford-designed, Ford-built 2011 Super Duty truck, we thoroughly tested B20 in our new engine under the harshest of conditions. B20 proved itself to provide the same fuel economy, power and performance our customers expect of our high performance diesels – there are no trade-offs for using B20”.

Soybean Checkoff Supports Biodiesel Promotion

The United Soybean Board (USB) has recommitted itself to the support of biodiesel through the soybean checkoff program.

USB chairman Marc Curtis, a producer from Mississippi, and National Biodiesel Board chairman Gary Haer held a joint press conference at AG CONNECT Expo this past weekend to discuss the importance of biodiesel to the soybean industry. “We have research that shows over the last 4-5 years, biodiesel has contributed about 25 cents a bushel to the farm gate price of soybeans,” Curtis said. “So when you multiply 25 cents times several billion bushels, that makes a pretty good return on investment from the $30-40 million that have been invested from farmers’ checkoff money in the biodiesel industry.”

Listen to an interview with Marc Curtis here: Marc Curtis

USB is investing in an outreach effort by the biodiesel industry to spread the word that biodiesel is the only commercially available advanced biofuel. “It’s here today, it’s available now,” said Haer. “We have 1.4 billion gallons of production capability and we just need to get it going.”

Haer is vice president of sales and marketing for REG (Renewable Energy Group), the nation’s largest biodiesel producer, and he is very optimistic about the future now that the biodiesel tax credit has been extended retroactively and through 2011. He is also looking forward to a more upbeat National Biodiesel Conference in Phoenix next month.

Listen to an interview with Gary Haer here: Gary Haer

2011 AG CONNECT Expo Photo Album

Changes in Law Make Biodiesel Conf. Must Attend Event

The recent renewal of the federal $1-a-gallon biodiesel tax incentive, along with the newly enacted Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) that will require 800 million gallons of biodiesel to be used in 2011, make it more important than ever to attend this year’s Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Feb. 6-9, in Phoenix, Arizona.

National Biodiesel Board officials say they’ll have a wide variety of government experts and EPA officials on hand at this year’s conference to explain the changes and what they mean for biodiesel producers and users. NBB CEO Joe Jobe says:

The uncertainty surrounding the biodiesel tax credit and the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard-2 made 2010 tough on all of us, to be sure. But we have high hopes that this conference will be the springboard to greater opportunities. In fact, 2011 has the potential to be a banner year for biodiesel production. The RFS2, now that it is fully implemented, will be the driving force behind biodiesel demand in 2011 and beyond. NBB recognizes that this relatively new legislation is still unclear to many in the industry. That’s why we are offering a comprehensive workshop, free with your full registration, which will dive into the “nuts and bolts” of the RFS2, featuring some of the top experts on the issue. This is truly a “can’t miss” event if you plan to be part of the biodiesel industry moving forward.

Don’t forget, the deadline for lodging at the conference is Jan. 10, 2011. More details are available at the conference website.

Court Ruling Positive for Biodiesel

The biodiesel industry got another early Christmas present when a district appeals court today denied a petition challenging the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2).

The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set forth a unanimous decision to deny the petition by National Petrochemical Refiners Association (NPRA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) challenging the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2). The petition was filed in March of this year saying the RFS2 violated the statutory requirements setting separate biomass-based diesel volume requirements for 2009 and 2010, that it was inappropriately retroactive without proper lead time and compliance provisions.

The National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) was obviously pleased to hear about the decision. “This wholly validates the U.S. biodiesel industry’s legal position and sends a clear, unambiguous signal to the marketplace that the common-sense renewable goals established in the RFS2 program will be met,” said Manning Feraci, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs.

Renewable Energy Group (REG), the nation’s largest biodiesel producer, also applauded the decision.

“This lawsuit was the final piece of uncertainty creating market disruption for the biodiesel industry. With last week’s reinstatement of the biodiesel blenders’ tax credit and today’s announcement by the court, REG is bullish on the 2011 market for biodiesel demand,” said REG’s Gary Haer, who is the new president of NBB.

More than 1.4 billion gallons of biodiesel production is registered with the EPA to produce valid RINs to meet required volume obligations. Renewable Energy Group has more than 180 million gallons of production capacity. The company anticipates significant demand increases in coming weeks due to these recent announcements.

Meanwhile, NPRA “expressed disappointment and concern” over the decision. “This retroactive regulation by a federal agency establishes a deeply troubling and potentially far-reaching precedent,” said NPRA president Charles Drevna. “We’re disappointed that the court did not overturn what is clearly a flawed and misguided approach toward implementation of the federal Renewable Fuels Standard. Regardless of the court’s ruling, however, NPRA and its members remain committed to working towards the overall implementation of the RFS program.”

Even though the thrust of the challenge was related to biodiesel, Growth Energy had intervened in the court case on behalf of the ethanol industry to help defend the mandated volumes and make sure that the volumetric levels were retroactive as of Jan 2010. “We intervened because we believe that EPA’s decision regarding the mandated volume of domestic renewable fuels furthers the intent of Congress,” Growth Energy said in a statement.

Ethanol Stakeholders Attend Tax Bill Signing

President Obama held a public signing ceremony for the tax bill passed by Congress this week that delivers early Christmas presents for everyone. Among those in attendance at the signing were some 150 members of Congress, administration officials and key stakeholder and advocates who worked to pass the bill, including representatives from the ethanol industry.

Both Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis were in the audience at the bill signing. “The Obama Administration today reaffirmed its commitment to America’s ethanol industry,” said Dinneen in a statement. “Extending these tax incentives prevents America from backtracking on the gains it has made in energy security and jettisoning the economic opportunity domestic ethanol production has brought to hundreds of rural communities all across the nation.”

At the ceremony, Buis presented the President with a letter thanking him for his support on behalf of the American ethanol industry. “We write today to express our deep appreciation and thanks for your leadership in delivering a common-sense ethanol tax policy. This legislation provides the certainty we require as our nation transitions to the debate over reforming our long-term national energy policy,” the letter reads. “Every year, our addiction to foreign oil drains $1,000 for every man, woman and child out of our economy. That is money we should invest in Des Moines, not Abu Dhabi – Columbus, and not Caracas.”

The biodiesel industry was not represented at the signing, but they were no less enthusiastic in their praise and gratitude for the bill which retroactively renews the biodiesel tax credit that expired at the end of 2009. “Reinstatement of this proven incentive helps provide the policy framework needed to meet the nation’s renewable goals, and the NBB sincerely appreciates the bipartisan cooperation and support that made extension of this worthwhile incentive possible,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO.

Senate Passes Tax Package

The Senate has overwhelmingly passed what is likely to be an early Christmas present for everyone, including renewable energy interests, with tax credits for ethanol and biodiesel extended for another year.

The vote was 81 to 19 to pass the bill, which was primarily to extend both unemployment benefits and the Bush era tax cuts. The House is expected to take up the measure as soon as today and analysts believe that it will pass largely intact, with major concerns there being with the estate tax.

Biodiesel and ethanol trade groups were quick to praise the Senate action. “The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is pleased by the Senate’s vote to retroactively extend the biodiesel tax incentive,” said Manning Feraci, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “This will help ensure that the nation reaps the job creation, energy security, and environmental benefits associated with the expanded domestic production and use of biodiesel in the coming year.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) CEO and President Bob Dinneen said in a statement that extending the ethanol incentives will help save jobs and give the industry some stability. “Members of the RFA greatly appreciate the work of ethanol advocates, led by Sen. Charles Grassley and the Obama Administration, to ensure these important job-creating provisions were included. We strongly urge the House to take up the measure as soon as is possible and to pass it before adjourning for the year,” said Dinneen.

“This bipartisan vote shows that the Senate is committed to enacting sound tax policies that invest in green industries, like ethanol,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.

Biodiesel Tax Incentive Clears Cloture; NBB Optimistic

The federal $1-a-gallon biodiesel blenders credit has cleared an important legislative hurdle, and the National Biodiesel Board is optimistic it will become law. Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted to end debate (invoking cloture) on the package of tax credits, including the biodiesel incentive, by a bipartisan 83-15 margin.

As the vote was going on, I talked to the NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, Manning Feraci, who believes, this time, the measure is headed for actual passage.

“What this does, essentially, is put us on a glide path to have Senate passage in the next day or two of the tax package that is carrying everything from the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, and, as it applies to the biodiesel industry, a retroactive extension through 2011 of the biodiesel tax incentive,” Feraci said.

He believes that large bipartisan support in this cloture vote is a positive indicator for final passage. But Feraci admits some Democrats, especially in the House, where the bill would have to return once the Senate passes it, have some real angst over the package President Obama negotiated with the Republicans. “The Democrats, who still control the House at this point, are trying to figure out how they’re going to play this.” He says while no one wants Americans’ taxes to go up on January 1st, there’s a high-stakes game of chicken being played right now.

Feraci admits it has been a frustrating year for the biodiesel industry with the loss of the tax break and the lack of push until the 11th hour from the Obama Administration to get this passed. And he says there are worries that some fiscal hawks, especially from the Republican side, have some real heartburn with the tax break … although Feraci is quick to point out the economic “bang for the buck” the incentive provides. In addition, if the current Congress is not able to get this passed before the new session in January, when the Republicans take control of the House, the bipartisan support biodiesel enjoys could ensure it eventually passing, no matter who controls Congress. Feraci adds that passage could make 2011 a banner year for biodiesel, because it will bring stability to the industry. In the meantime, he’s watching carefully what is happening.

“We’re just going to have to stay tuned to see how this is going to play out over the next couple of days.”

Listen to more of my conversation with Feraci here: Manning Feraci, NBB

Why Do You Believe in Biodiesel?

Maybe it’s the renewable nature of the fuel. Maybe it’s the fact that the fumes from some of it smells likes french fries. Maybe, my personal favorite, it helps this country get off its foreign oil addiction. Well, whatever your reason for believing in biodiesel, the National Biodiesel Board is inviting you to put your thoughts onto video:

The best of the best clips will be used during the 2011 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Feb. 6 – 9 in Phoenix, showcased on the National Biodiesel Board’s web site, Facebook Fan Page, and other communications where biodiesel is at work.

Make your voice heard as our industry moves forward!

The statements must be submitted in the following format: “I believe in biodiesel because….”

You can check out the National Biodiesel Board’s site and see how some of the NBB’s staffs’ examples to get you started. My personal favorite is my friend Jessica Robinson’s video, where she mentions her best friend’s husband, who is in the Marine Corps serving overseas.

Turning that Fried Turkey Grease into Biodiesel

While the Thanksgiving Day feast might be behind you … except for the leftovers (I’m reminded of the Christmas Story lines where the narrator bemoans the loss of all the turkey-based leftovers when the neighbors’ hounds make off with said turkey – funny stuff!) … there might be one more leftover that you can’t quite put in the freezer for consumption later – the grease from frying the turkey. Frying turkey instead of roasting it has become a popular option (and thanks to my brother Bruce the method we chose to have our bird this year), but it leaves gallons of leftover oil that too many times ends up in the trash or sewer. Well, if you’re one of the many who have chosen the fried method, why not consider recycling that used grease into biodiesel?

The oil makes an excellent feedstock for the green fuel. If you’re a home biodiesel brewer, you already have all the equipment and know-how. But if you don’t make your own biodiesel, many communities across the country are offering free drop-off of your used grease. Check with your local officials. In addition, the National Biodiesel Board has listed several places that are accepting used cooking oil to turn into biodiesel on this website. Not only will you be able to do something green for your gas tank, you’ll be helping your community’s sewer and trash systems by keeping the grease out of those systems.

As for my brother, he used cheese cloth to clean up the oil after frying and plans to use it a few more times for some future fish fries has has planned. But when it’s run its course, I’ll make sure to let him know to do his part to help biodiesel and clean the environment.

Biodiesel Board Offers Scholarship to Feb. Conference

They say education is expensive (but ignorance is even more so!), so our friends at the National Biodiesel Board are offering a scholarship to their upcoming conference to better educate students about the importance of biodiesel.

One fortunate student scientist with an interest in biodiesel will get a full-ride scholarship to the biggest biodiesel event of the year – the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Feb. 6 – 9 in Phoenix, Ariz.:

The scholarship will include:

* Conference registration (a $725 value);
* Three nights hotel;
* Airfare (domestic travel only);
* Networking opportunities with some of the brightest minds in biodiesel research;
* Recognition in conference materials.

The NBB will also be offering several other scholarships to the conference that reduce the registration fee to just $100.

This latest move to encourage student interest in biodiesel comes on the heels of the NBB launching the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel initiative, a student group formed to demonstrate and grow support for biodiesel among tomorrow’s scientific leaders.

Applicants must be a college/university student in a scientific field of study and must have signed the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel initiative’s online declaration of support. Students need to submit:

* A resume
* A 500-word summary of your experience with biodiesel, commitment to biodiesel, and career plans
* Optional: a biodiesel-related photograph of yourself
* Optional: an I Believe in Biodiesel video clip

Application deadline is December 15, 2010. More information is available here.

This project is supported by the National Biodiesel Board and the United Soybean Board through the soybean checkoff.