Policy Uncertainty Shrinks US Biodiesel Market

nbb-advancedThe U.S. biodiesel market was a bit smaller in 2014, and policy uncertainty in Washington is being blamed for the decrease. The National Biodiesel Board says the destabilization of the industry, including the Obama Administration’s failure to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Congress allowing the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014, caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production, dropping total U.S. biodiesel consumption to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013.

“These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the industry trade association. “The drop in production represents lost jobs and economic activity. It represents a lost opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. And it represents another year in which we fail to tackle our dangerous dependence on oil in the fuels sector.”

“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” Jobe said. “But companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a New Year with continued uncertainty.”

Jobe went on to say that it’s frustrating because it is completely unnecessary and urged the Obama administration and Congress to put smart policies back in place.

Market Challenges, Fed Policy Talk at Biodiesel Conf.

2015biodieselconflogo1World energy market challenges and federal policies have had some major impacts on the biodiesel industry as 2014 closed out. That’s why this month, as a new year begins, attendees of the annual National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, January 19 – 22 at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Texas, will talk about what the petroleum glut and the delay of federal renewable fuels volume requirements for gas and diesel mean for biodiesel.

“With a new Congress convening in Washington, DC, promising significant new legislation aimed at biofuels and the energy sector, it just makes sense that we will be highlighting some of these same issues in the heart of the of domestic oil and gas industry,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

[E]nergy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations.

Of particular importance to biofuel producers is the fate of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal policy enacted under President George W. Bush with bipartisan support that ensures minimum volumes of biodiesel and other renewables are blended into the fuel supply. The year ended clouded in controversy as the EPA never finalized a rule for 2014’s volume requirements.

“Without a rule in place,” Jobe said, “biodiesel producers are hesitant to invest in their businesses and employees. In some cases, the uncertainty over the EPA potentially scaling back volume requirements has led some producers to shutter plants and lay off staff. The industry needs confidence that the federal government is committed to advanced biofuels and supportive of our growth.”

The 12th annual conference and expo also includes:

An opportunity for attendees and the public to test biodiesel vehicles at a unique ride-and-drive experience;
Automakers and fleets will display their latest cars and trucks at the vehicle showcase;
Texas fleet managers will share their experiences with biodiesel and how it’s making a difference in the Lone Star State;
A session on biodiesel infused heating oil shaking up the industry, and much, much more.

But energy policy will be front-and-center of the discussions, with state and federal experts on all sides of the issue presenting their views and expectations.

More information and registration is available at biodieselconference.org.

Performance Standards for Biodiesel Heating Oil Set

BioHeatNew performance standards are set for biodiesel heating oil, better known as Bioheat. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says ASTM International, an organization which sets industry consensus standards for fuels and lubricants, has voted to approve performance specifications for blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel with traditional heating oil.

The updated ASTM D396 Standard Specification for Fuel Oils, containing the new grade for blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel, will be finalized and published by ASTM for public use after the usual ASTM review and editing process. It is expected by February 2015.

“The fuel oil industry is reinventing itself as a 21st century fuel by moving to higher blends of low carbon biodiesel and near-zero sulfur levels across the board,” said John Huber, president of the National Oilheat Research Alliance.

The Bioheat renaissance gives oilheat dealers, mostly small, family-owned businesses, the ability to provide their customers with a desirable new product, according to Huber.

“Bioheat gives consumers the choice to use a clean, domestically produced fuel without having to invest in an expensive natural gas system,” said Paul Nazzaro, who leads the National Biodiesel Board’s Bioheat outreach program. “Setting these performance specs for increased biodiesel levels is hugely significant, because it opens the door for innovation in the heating oil industry and will allow more consumers to enjoy the full benefits of this fuel in their homes and businesses.”

Officials went on to point out that a 20 percent blend of biodiesel puts Bioheat on par with natural gas, the biggest competitor to oilheat. Even higher blends, up to the full 100 percent level, could reduce the carbon footprint of Bioheat up to 80 percent compared to traditional fuel oil.

Biodiesel Industry Wants Longer Tax Extension

nbb-logoBiodiesel producers are pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reinstate the biodiesel tax incentive as part of the tax extenders package passed on Wednesday, but they would prefer a longer term deal to provide more certainty for the industry.

“While we appreciate a one-year extension, we are urging Congress to continue pressing for a longer-term policy that can afford this industry the certainty needed to invest and grow,” said National Biodiesel Board VP of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Biodiesel businesses across the country are poised to expand their operations, hire new workers and build new infrastructure, but we need forward-looking policy.”

She added that the deal passed Thursday is only good until the end of this year, so the biodiesel tax incentive expire once again on January 1,for the fourth time in six years. “It is very difficult to run a business with that kind of uncertainty,” Steckel said.

“The biodiesel incentive is proven to create jobs and economic activity, and it pays tremendous dividends in terms of reducing costly pollution and improving our energy security as well,” said NBB Board Chairman Steven J. Levy, managing director at Sprague Operating Resources. “It is a successful policy that is working so there is no reason to have this kind of perpetual uncertainty.”

The House voted 378-46 Wednesday night to approve HR 5771, setting up a potential Senate vote in the coming days.

Give to Biodiesel Foundation for ‘Giving Tuesday”

NBF1Today is “Giving Tuesday,” a day when people are encouraged to get out of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday buying frenzies and give something back to charity. Our friends at the National Biodiesel Board suggest you consider the National Biodiesel Foundation, a non-profit organization that works closely with NBB for the advancement of biodiesel, with the goal of raising $100,000 today.

“Despite the clear benefits of biodiesel, its continued use is threatened. Biofuel opponents are backed by deep pockets and unsubstantiated messages,” stated Executive Director Tom Verry. “We need to work together to assist scientists in providing irrefutable data to show that biodiesel is improving the air we breathe, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and safeguarding our environment.”

You can be a part of a better tomorrow by supporting NBF in their mission by making a donation at www.biodieselfoundation.org.

NBB also reminds people that how much biodiesel already gives back to them: a cleaner environment, 60,000 domestic jobs and less dependence on foreign oil.

Biodiesel Board Gives Thanks for the Green Fuel

nbb-logoOur friends at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) are grateful for many things, but above all… biodiesel! And they’ve put together a top 10 list of how you can show your gratitude to those who support America’s advanced biofuel this Thanksgiving:

10. Clean your house for the big day with Method products. The company “set out to change the world by creating beautiful cleaning products that are as kind to the planet as they are tough on dirt.” Method uses biodiesel to power more than one-third of its U.S. truck shipments.

9. Serve Kettle chips as a pre-feast snack. All of the waste vegetable oil from the Kettle Brand® production process is converted into biodiesel. The company chips into the environment by fueling its fleet with biodiesel, too.

8. Stock the fridge with Sierra Nevada. This craft brewing company uses a blend of up to 20 percent biodiesel (B20) in its delivery trucks. The Chico, Calif. company grows eight acres of hops, also fueling its tractors with biodiesel.

Other items include driving over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house in a truck powered by biodiesel, cheering on your favorite football team to the Super Bowl, which has used biodiesel blends in its generators, and heating your home with a blend of biodiesel and heating oil, Bioheat® fuel.

And of course the top way to show your gratitude for America’s biodiesel makers is probably the easiest one of all:

1. Eat turkey! We’re confident millions of Americans will assist with this biodiesel-supporting directive! Biodiesel can be made from any fat or vegetable oil, including poultry fat, or leftover frying oil. In Arizona, Tucson Clean Cities will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Day-After-Thanksgiving Grease Collection event, with other cities hosting similar programs to keep grease out of the sewers and recycle it to make biodiesel.

Biodiesel Benefits Livestock Producers

nafb14-nbb-weberWhile some have tried to pit the biofuels industry against livestock producers, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) explain their green fuel is actually helping those producers.

“The livestock industry is a strong stakeholder. That’s how we view animal agriculture in terms of biodiesel production,” said Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB, during a recent interview with Cindy at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters convention.

Alan said that while soy oil still remains the main feedstock for biodiesel, the fuel is making inroads using animal tallow. In fact, he said that 25 percent of animal fat from livestock production now goes into biodiesel. He pointed out that while European demand has dropped for animal fats, biodiesel has helped maintain the market and keep money in farmers’ pockets. Alan also reiterated a point made many times before that with the crush of soybeans for biodiesel, it is actually helping keep feed for livestock plentiful.

“Every time we crush an additional bushel of soybeans, we also get more meal,” actually keeping down feed costs, he said. “It’s been a nice relationship, and we look forward to continuing that in the future.”

Listen to more of Cindy’s interview with Alan here: Interview with Alan Weber, economic consultant for the NBB

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

Coverage of the NAFB convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

Hear Biofuels Reps Talk About RFS Delay

epa-150Biofuels industry representatives spent Friday afternoon fielding calls from reporters to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency decision to put off finalizing 2014 volume standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard program until next year.

Domestic Fuel caught up with four of the industry groups, starting with Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), already posted previously.

Listen to the interviews below:

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)Interview with ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings

Growth Energy
Interview with Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis

National Biodiesel Board (NBB)Interview with NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel

On Monday, biofuels industry leaders will hold briefings for Capitol Hill staff and the media to discuss the implications of the decision and where we go from here. The Fuels America briefing will feature Buis, Dinneen, Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) Executive Director Brooke Coleman, and Brent Erickson with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

EPA Delay Continues Uncertainty for Biodiesel

The biodiesel industry and soybean growers weighed in on the EPA decision today to delay 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nbb-advanced“This Administration says over and over that it supports biodiesel, yet its actions with these repeated delays are undermining the industry,” said National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel. “Biodiesel producers have laid off workers and idled production. Some have shut down altogether. We know that fuels policy is complex, but there is absolutely no reason that the biodiesel volume hasn’t been announced. We are urging the Administration to finalize a 2014 rule as quickly as possible that puts this industry back on track for growth and puts our country back on track for ending our dangerous dependence on oil. We also urge them to move quickly on 2015 so that we don’t repeat this flawed process again next year.”

ASAlogo1“The continued delays create great uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers and limits the industry’s ability to invest and expand,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “The Proposed Rule was unacceptable and would have taken biodiesel backward from the amounts produced and utilized in 2013. However, ASA believes that EPA can and should finalize a 2014 rule that sets the biomass-based diesel volumes at or above the nearly 1.8 billion gallons that were produced and consumed in the U.S. in 2013.”

Biodiesel Board Picks Leadership

nbb-logoThe National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has picked five returning governing board members and two new members to serve in leadership roles.

“Biodiesel has faced many challenges but with strong leadership from among all sectors of the industry we are in a position as an organization to face those challenges head on,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “This industry has produced more than a billion gallons of advanced biofuels each of the last three years and will continue to grow into the future under the direction of the board.”

Officers elected to lead the board are:

Steven J. Levy, chairman, Sprague Operating Resources
Ron Marr, vice chair, Minnesota Soybean Processors
Mike Cunningham, treasurer, American Soybean Association
Greg Anderson, secretary, Nebraska Soybean Board

NBB members also voted to fill seven board member spots. Members elected to the Governing Board included officers Steven J. Levy, Greg Anderson, and Mike Cunningham along with:

Jennifer Case, New Leaf Biofuel
Tim Keaveney, HERO BX
Robert Morton, Newport Biodiesel
Ben Wootton, World Energy

Ron Marr, Gary Haer, Todd Ellis, Kent Engelbrecht, Ed Hegland, Bob Metz, Robert Stobaugh, and Ed Ulch will continue serving on the Governing Board.

Biodiesel Industry Waiting on RFS and Tax Credit

nafb14-nbb-kalebThe biodiesel industry is doing fairly well right now, but producers are anxiously awaiting some policy decisions that could improve the situation.

The two outstanding issues right now are the final 2014 volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the once again expired biodiesel tax credits, according to Kaleb Little with the National Biodiesel Board. “The delay in the volumes has really hurt production,” said Little. “Overall production, we’re still probably going to be around 1.28 billion gallons for the year, but certainly below 2013’s record production (of 1.8 billion).”

Little says that 2013 is an example of what stable policy could do for the industry, with both the biodiesel tax credit in place and the RFS volumes in line with production capability. “You get those things lined up right in the same year and – record production,” he said. “Producers were glad to see it after some rough years and some ups and downs.”

Policy issues will be at the forefront as always during the 2015 National Biodiesel Conference January 19-22 in Fort Worth, and Little says they will also have some good news about new support for biodiesel from manufacturers.

Listen to my interview with Kaleb here from the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention: Interview with Kaleb Little, NBB

2014 NAFB Convention Photos

Coverage of the NAFB convention is sponsored by
NAFB Convention is sponsored by FMC

Biodiesel Would Be Projected Winner, If on the Ballot

nbb-advancedVoters in this country might be split along political party loyalties, but if biodiesel were on the ticket, it would be a landslide victory for the green fuel. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says tax incentives and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are polling a lot better than lots of pols.

Three out of four voters (75 percent) support a tax incentive for biodiesel, the survey found. Seventy-six percent said they support a national renewable fuel standard. The survey of nearly 1,200 registered U.S. voters was conducted by Moore Information Opinion Research between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2. It was commissioned by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

“These numbers reflect overwhelming public support for developing cleaner, alternative fuels so that we’re not so dangerously dependent on petroleum,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “These policies are popular because they are effective. We’re gradually reducing our dependence on oil. We’re reducing harmful and costly pollution. And we’re creating jobs and economic activity at home. Congress and the Obama administration should take cues from the people who elected them and step up to make sure we have strong, stable policies supporting biodiesel production.”

Despite the popularity of biodiesel, NBB says it’s being held hostage by folks in Washington who maybe aren’t reading the same polls, as the Environmental Protection Agency still has its proposal to drastically cut the amount of biodiesel to be blended into the country’s fuel supply, and Congress has failed to renew the $1-per-gallon federal biodiesel tax incentive that expired at the end of 2013.

“This is one of those issues that illustrates why voters are so fed up with Washington,” Steckel said. “You have policies with overwhelming support from the public and strong bipartisan support in Congress, yet Washington seems paralyzed with inaction. Jobs are at stake here, and we urge the Obama administration and Congress to act quickly to get this industry back on track.”

NBB’s survey also found that 85 percent of respondents said a candidate’s position on energy issues was somewhat important or very important in their voting decision, and 78 percent said a candidate’s position on alternative fuels was very important or somewhat important.

NBB: Soy, Livestock and Biodiesel Go Together

As the world celebrated World Food Day yesterday, the folks at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), along with their friends at the American Soybean Association (ASA), make the case that the biodiesel industry, soybean growers and livestock producers are an important part of the food chain.
NBBworldfoodday1
“The world has a protein gap that needs to be filled,” said American Soybean Association World Initiative for Soy in Human Health Chairman Andy Welden. “Our crop offers soybean meal for livestock feed and human food, which at the same time, creates an abundant supply of soybean oil for biodiesel.”

October 16 is annually recognized as World Food Day. The 2014 Theme is Family Farming; Feeding the world, caring for the earth. The United States produces more than 3.2 billion bushels of soybeans a year, offering an abundant supply of meal for human foods and livestock feeds as well as oil for biodiesel and other uses. U.S. soybean growers also participate in support sustainability programs for conservation and other environmental practices.

NBB also pointed that increased biodiesel production benefits poultry and livestock farmers, as increased amounts of soy oil for biodiesel production also means more soy meal is available for livestock feed and human food. The group added that, according to the United Nations, 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14. But that number is actually down more than 100 million over the last decade, in no small part because of the ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) that assists developing country entrepreneurs and leaders in filling the “protein gap” with nutritious soy-based foods as well as livestock and aquaculture feeds.

Along with reducing the cost of livestock feed, biodiesel also adds value to animal fats. In 2013 demand for fats and oils for biodiesel production increased the value of beef tallow an estimated $567 million, pork fat an estimated $165 million, and poultry fat by more than $51 million, making the production of animal protein more economical.

NBB Cautiously Optimistic About RFS

“We’ve exceeded the goals of advanced biofuels. Then we had the devastating proposed rule that has gone on for a year now. We are cautiously optimistic that we’ll have something here within the next few weeks and that it will be positive,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) who was one of the panel members of panel that discussed federal biofuels policy and the long-term prognosis of the advanced biofuels industry. The discussion was part of the National Advanced Biofuels Conference that recently took place in Minnesota and also included a robust discussion on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

nabce-14-Joe Jobe NBBJobe noted that the biofuels industry and particularly the advanced biofuels industry is beleaguered. “We’ve been under attack by uncertain policy signals, but we need to keep up the fight and double down on the fight. We need to get more of our message out there. We need to get more involved in policy advocacy, we need to get the RFS working again,” said Jobe.

The industry has demonstrated the RFS can work well said Jobe. “We created it to be a stable energy policy.”

Last year was a record breaker for the biodiesel industry – it grew from producing just over one billion gallons in 2012 to just under 2 billion gallons in 2013. “Advanced biofuels are here. The industry has exceeded the goals of advanced biofuels,” Jobe stressed.

The policy discussion will continue during the 2015 National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo taking place in Ft. Forth, Texas January 19-22. Registration is open.

Jobe urges the industry to step up its advocacy efforts and its policy efforts to ensure the future of the advanced biofuels industry.

Interview with Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board
Remarks from Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo Photo Album

Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by
Coverage of The Advanced Biofuels Conference and Expo is sponsored by New Holland

Minnesota Biodiesel Exceeds Quality Standards

nbb-logoBiodiesel in Minnesota is more than meeting quality standards – it’s exceeding them! The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) reports that some recent field testing from more than 30 random retail stations scattered throughout the state of Minnesota showed biodiesel blends greatly exceeding important fuel quality parameters set by the industry.

“Biodiesel fuel quality is at an all-time high across the industry,” said Scott Fenwick, National Biodiesel Board technical director. “The recent results from the Minnesota testing is just another example of why consumers can feel confident filling up with biodiesel blends.”

A key indicator of fuel quality in biodiesel blends is oxidative stability, which is a measure of degradation caused by exposure to oxygen. Plymouth, Minn., based MEG Corp., a fuel consulting company, took blind samples in September from retailers across three regions in Minnesota — north, metro and south.

All of the samples taken surpassed the minimum required specification for oxidative stability and most of the samples were three to four times better than the minimum. Fenwick said higher values indicate even better stability, and this new real-world data is important as some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) look for more assurances that biodiesel blends are meeting specifications at the pump. The minimum stability requirements within the current biodiesel specs only recommend for biodiesel to be stored for up to six months which is more than enough time for most diesel applications.

Minnesota just completed the first summer of a successful run with 10 percent biodiesel (B10) in diesel fuel statewide, which was considered a success in no small part because of the high quality of the fuel in the system.