NBB Lifetime Achievement Award

Don Borgman AwardA very special award was presented to John Deere’s Don Borgman today at the National Biodiesel Conference. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the industry.

Later this year Borgman will be retiring from John Deere after over 40 years of service. Most recently he served as the Director of Agricultural Industry Relations for John Deere’s North American operations. He has been involved in the promotion and expansion of demand for agricultural products since the late 1970’s, and his work was instrumental in John Deere’s acceptance, support, and promotion of biodiesel.

You can listen to Don’s remarks here: Don Borgman Remarks

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

NBB Chair Calls for Industry Unity

NBB Chair Steven LevyThe Chair of the National Biodiesel Board is Steven J. Levy, Sprague Operating Resources LLC. This is his first conference as the Chair so when he spoke at today’s general session he told a little bit about himself and his background. He’s the first NBB Chair who is not a farmer, producer or from the Midwest.

Steven spoke about the work of the National Biodiesel Board and the challenges that it will overcome by being a unified voice for the industry.

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

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Winning Teamwork Needed by Biodiesel Industry

Jim CraigThe current situation with the RFS has pitted the big petroleum industry against an industry that has made great strides in developing renewable and clean energy. Attendees at the National Biodiesel Conference today got some motivation and inspiration from Jim Craig, 1980 U.S. Hockey Team goalie on when they won gold at the Winter Olympics in what has been called the greatest sports moment in the 20th Century.

Jim encouraged all elements of the biodiesel industry to come together as a team. When comparing the industry to the petroleum industry in this fight he said to “Become the winning underdog.” I visited with him right after his speech.

You can listen to my interview with Jim here: Jim Craig Interview

You can listen to a brief excerpt of Jim’s remarks here: Jim Craig Remarks

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Joe Jobe Exposes Renewable Energy Reality

Joe Jobe NBBThis morning Joe Jobe, CEO, National Biodiesel Board, rallied his troops at the National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego. He told attendees that the petroleum industry is misleading Americans about fuel policy and called on President Barack Obama to stand firm behind his previous commitments to supporting alternative energy industries.

In his annual address at the Biodiesel Conference & Expo, Jobe shed light on current industry challenges and exposed cracks in how we think about energy.

He pointed out that biodiesel’s story is not unique, “Biodiesel’s story is an example of how effective government policy can be to jump start a fledgling industry. That is the same story of nearly every new industry that involves technological development. Strong government policy support along with a unique spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and risk-taking are the primary reasons that so many major modern industries had their start in America.”

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

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Blogging Again

2014 National Biodiesel ConferenceIt’s that time. The 2014 National Biodiesel Conference is next week. I’ll be on location once again and working as the Biodiesel Blogger on the NBB Conference Blog.

Things will get going late Monday and through Wednesday. You can find the program here. I’ll be sharing lots of photos and interviews as I find them. Hope you enjoy them.

Our John Davis got a preview of the conference from NBB CEO Joe Jobe last month. Listen in if you missed it. Joe Jobe, CEO NBB

Biodiesel Conference to Discuss Challenges Ahead

NBBconflogo2014-1The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo is less than a month away, and the CEO of the National Biodiesel Board stresses that they need as many people involved in biodiesel as possible there, especially in light of the challenges facing the industry.

“Congress, for the third time in five years, through its inaction, is going to allow the biodiesel tax credit to expire,” Joe Jobe says, adding that the industry is getting hit with a double whammy, as the Environmental Protection Agency is effectively proposing to cut the amount of biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply. The end of that rulemaking process comes just a week after the conference, Jan. 20-23, 2014, so that makes it that much more important to get together at this crucial time. “The industry is really going to come together in San Diego and really work on unifying and attacking these threats together.”

Joe says it’s fitting with the biodiesel industry’s back to the wall that they have Jim Craig, the goaltender for the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team as the keynote speaker on the first day of the conference. More than 30 years ago, America seemed to face insurmountable odds against the most dominating hockey team of the era, the Soviet Union. But just like the “Miracle on Ice” hockey team that overcame those odds, Joe believes the biodiesel industry can face down the power and might of the “largest, wealthiest, most powerful industry, the petroleum industry, in human history. And right now they’re kind of getting their way with us, [but] we’re about to show what we can do… come from behind and win!”

“The biodiesel industry has always been the underdog, and we’ve always punched above our weight class. And we’re going to do it again and win this thing.”

Plus, don’t forget, San Diego is usually in the mid 70s and sunny that time of year… probably an improvement from what many biodiesel folks in the Midwest are experiencing now!

There’s still time to register; just click here.

Listen to more of my conversation with Joe here: Joe Jobe, CEO NBB

Congress Warned About Biodiesel Incentive Lapse

nbb-logoFailure once again to renew the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive is putting jobs and the industry’s growth at risk. The incentive lapses on Dec. 31st of this year, and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has sent out a warning letter to Congress as that date grows near.

“This marks the third time in five years that this incentive will have expired,” Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), wrote in the letter. “The uncertainty this creates is a major reason why we are still so dependent on petroleum. It is incredibly disruptive, not just to biodiesel plants across the country but also to our bipartisan goals of creating jobs in new domestic energy industries and boosting our energy security by diversifying our fuel supplies.”

“Biodiesel producers, many of them small companies, are reluctant to add new jobs when there is a strong likelihood that the incentive will disappear,” the letter continues. “Many are forced to cut back production when the incentive expires, causing job losses and even plant closures.”

Steckel added that NBB is pleased to see the ongoing discussion around tax reform but urged the lawmakers to not hold up tax extenders while those long-term negotiations continue.

Losing the tax incentive comes as a second recent blow to biodiesel, as the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed limiting biodiesel volumes under the RFS to 1.28 billion gallons for the next two years.

54 Reps Call for Reversal on Biodiesel RFS Proposal

us-capitol-fiscal-cliff-voteFifty-four members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle are calling on the Obama Administration to reverse course on its proposal to cut the amount of biodiesel to be required to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply. This news release from the National Biodiesel Board says the call comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed biodiesel production under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014 and 2015 to be 1.28 billion gallons, despite the fact the green fuel’s numbers are expected to hit 1.7 billion gallons this year.

In a letter led by U.S. Reps. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., the U.S. representatives – a bipartisan group representing districts from California to Iowa to Florida – called on the Administration to establish an RFS volume that is at least consistent with this year’s anticipated production of 1.7 billion gallons. The letter … was sent to the EPA and other Administration officials.

“It is clear that biodiesel has been a great RFS success story. It has exceeded RFS targets in each year and is clearly poised to do so again in 2013,” the lawmakers wrote. “This type of reduction could have very damaging repercussions. It could result in dozens of biodiesel facilities shutting down permanently and ceasing production.”

“We would strongly urge you to continue your support for this developing and fragile industry with a reasonable increase in the RFS volume requirement for 2014 and responsible growth in the future,” the letter states.

This comes on the heels of a similar letter last month sent by 32 U.S. senators, and it comes with similar warnings of dire consequences: Continue reading

Miraculous Keynote Announced for Biodiesel Conf.

craigBacks against the wall, facing what seems like impossible odds … there’s a lot of parallels between what the biodiesel industry is facing these days with possible cuts to its share of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and what the 1980 U.S. hockey team faced more than two decades ago, as the team got ready to face the mighty Soviet Union. But miracles do happen, and that squad took home gold that year, beating those stacked odds. The U.S. biodiesel industry has its own hill to climb, so it seems rather appropriate that for the coming National Biodiesel Conference, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has announced Olympic gold medalist Jim Craig, goalie for the 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” Hockey Team, will deliver the keynote address.

He is best remembered for his outstanding goaltending when the U.S. team beat the heavily favored Russians and went on to win the Olympic gold medal in what’s been labeled the greatest sports moment of the 20th Century.

Craig’s message comes at an appropriate time, with many people in the biodiesel industry facing adversity due to uncertainty over the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Craig’s story shows a come-from-behind victory is never completely out of reach!

NBBconflogo2014-1Craig is currently president of Gold Medal Strategies, a motivational speaking and sales training company. During the past 30 years, he has inspired and provided strategic direction for more than 500 organizations and some of the world’s most recognized brands. Craig’s latest business book, Gold Medal Strategies, Business Lessons from America’s Miracle Team, was published in 2011.

The folks from NBB also remind you that the 2014 conference comes two weeks earlier than previous years, running Jan. 20-23, 2014 so you need to hurry up and get your reservation in for THE biodiesel event of the year before prices go up on Jan. 3.

Biodiesel Board: EPA Got it Wrong

steckel1The National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) message to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pretty simple: You got it WRONG! During last week’s hearing on the EPA’s proposed reduction in the amount of biodiesel and ethanol that will be mixed into the country’s fuel supply, Vice President of Federal Affairs for NBB Anne Steckel told those at the hearing that the proposal could cost jobs and hurt an industry that thought it was on the right track.

“This is a very dramatic thing the EPA has done, and we’re trying to set the record straight,” Anne said in an interview with me, adding that more that two dozen biodiesel producers also made the trip to the Nation’s capital to make the case for the green fuel … a pretty strong one when you look at the facts. “Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel, so we’re lessening greenhouse gas emissions significantly, we’re helping out with the economy, we’re supporting more than 62,000 jobs across the country, we have diversified our feedstocks, and those feedstock prices are low. So for EPA to put this out is very shocking.”

Anne said it looks like EPA just cut-and-paste the data from 2011 and ignored the most recent updates the industry gave it. She stressed that this hearing isn’t the only opportunity to let the EPA know of its mistake. She’s encouraging all biodiesel advocates to contact officials and let them know the biomass-based diesel number should be at least 1.7 billion gallons. The NBB is even providing a template for a letter on its website to help make it easier to have more voices heard between now and the end of the comment period at the end of January.

“Every voice really counts.”

Listen to my interview with Anne here: Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs for NBB

Biodiesel Voices to be Heard at EPA Hearing

nbb-logoWe will be at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ready to kick off in just a couple of hours in Arlington, Va., just across the river from the nation’s capital. Advocates and friends of biofuels are expected to turn out en masse, including our friends from the National Biodiesel Board, who plan to bring about two dozen representatives of the U.S. biodiesel industry to make the case that biodiesel is already an EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel produced at a commercial-scale and how the EPA’s proposal to reduce biodiesel production to 1.28 billion gallons will hurt the economy and the environment.

“This industry has been running at an annualized rate of about 2 billion gallons since July. That’s displacing 2 billion gallons of petroleum diesel,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “You can’t cut it almost in half and expect jobs and businesses to survive.”

“What’s so frustrating about the proposal is that biodiesel is an EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel that has exceeded RFS targets. It’s an RFS success story that is creating the clean-energy jobs that the Obama Administration has pushed so hard for in recent years,” Steckel added. “There is not a commercial-scale fuel on the planet that beats the environmental benefits that biodiesel delivers. By the EPA’s own calculations, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emission by 57 percent to 86 percent. So we will be looking for answers from the EPA and the Administration about why they are doing this. It is not consistent with the Administration’s stated policy.”

I’ll be there all day to follow the events and provide you updates, right here on Domestic Fuel.

Biodiesel Board Picks New Leadership

nbbboardNew leadership is in charge of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). During the group’s membership meeting yesterday in Washington DC, members voted to fill eight positions on the 15-person board, and new officers were elected.

“The biodiesel industry is on pace for record production in 2013 but the challenges facing this industry are significant,” said new NBB Chairman Steven J. Levy (seated in the center of the picture). “I am optimistic about our future as we face those challenges with a strong and diverse trade association membership united for the good of the industry, consumers, and the general public.”

Dozens of biodiesel stakeholders from across the country met with leaders on Capitol Hill on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and to voice strong disappointment with the Obama Administration’s recent proposal for next year’s renewable fuels volumes.

Officers elected to lead the board are: Chairman, Steven J. Levy; Vice Chairman, Ron Marr; Treasurer, Mike Cunningham; and Secretary, Greg Anderson.

New elected governing board members include: Todd Ellis, Imperium Renewables; Kent Engelbrecht, ADM; Gary Haer, Renewable Energy Group; Ed Hegland, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council; Ron Marr, Minnesota Soybean Processors; Bob Metz, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council; Robert Stobaugh, Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board; and Ed Ulch, Iowa Soybean Association

Those continuing to serve on the governing board include: Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board; Jennifer Case, New Leaf Biofuel, LLC; Mike Cunningham, American Soybean Association; Brandon Foley, Sanimax Energy; Steven J. Levy, Sprague Operating Resources LLC; Timothy Keaveney, HERO BX; and John Wright, Owensboro Grain Company.

Biodiesel Booth at NAFB Talks Food & Fuel

nafb-nbbBiodiesel producers had plenty to talk about … and plenty of ears to listen … during the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) meeting in Kansas City. Makes sense, when you consider how connected the farming and biodiesel industries have been over the years. We caught up with two folks from the National Biodiesel Board at the group’s booth at NAFB: NBB Economist Alan Weber and NBB board member Greg Anderson.

Speaking before the EPA had officially released its lowered Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) numbers, Alan said the proposed numbers of 1.28 billion gallons for next year, when the industry is approaching 1.7 billion gallons this year, would significantly hurt the 60,000-job biodiesel industry.

“That movement backwards would actually be about 8,000 jobs in the U.S. that we would lose and all that ripple effect throughout the economy,” he said, pointing out that biodiesel is the first commercially available advanced biofuel, getting the job done now.

“There’s a lot of unique alternative fuels out there. We can talk about electricity and hybrid electrics, but when we start thinking about how we move products in the United States, it’s going to be in diesel-powered, class-A over-the-road trucks, powered by a liquid biofuel. And that’s where biodiesel fits in.”

Interview with Alan Weber, NBB economist

Some of the knocks against biodiesel have come from falsehoods spread about how it is hurting livestock producers. Greg, who is a soybean farmer and livestock producer from Nebraska, said just the opposite is true as the soybean meal produced during the crush to get the oil actually enhances the livestock market.

“It works well together. It adds about $12 for every beef carcass, about $1.25 for pork and a few cents for each chicken. It all adds up. We see the value in biodiesel in lowering soybean meal prices, conservatively $25 a ton less. If biodiesel wasn’t there, it’d be more expensive to purchase and higher input costs for those folks to feed,” Greg said.

He also pointed out that while the soybean oil makes up about 19 percent of the bean, right now, because of biodiesel, it’s represents 40 percent of the bean’s value, producing food and fuel.

“We’re not only feeding America, but we’re fueling America.”

Interview with Greg Anderson, NBB board member

Biodiesel Backers Make Case on RFS to Congress

nbb19nov2Biodiesel backers are not quite ready to throw in the towel when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Backed by the National Biodiesel Board, they took to Washington, D.C. to voice their disappointment with the Obama Administration’s recent proposal for next year’s renewable fuels volumes.

“If the EPA freezes the biomass-based diesel target, it would put our company out of business,” said [Ben] Wootton, president and CEO of Keystone BioFuels of Camp Hill, Pa. [which faces closure because of the EPA's proposed numbers]. “Keystone is just starting to come out of a reorganization plan. The EPA proposed freeze on biomass-based diesel would essentially cut our current market in half and force us to shut our doors. It would be a major step back for the environment and the economy in our state.”

Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, said more than 100 biodiesel supporters, representing more than two dozen states from California to Iowa to North Carolina, will be making sure their members of Congress understand that this proposal will eliminate jobs and threaten production in their states.

“Our producers are frustrated and disappointed that the Administration, with no explanation, is essentially freezing a growing Advanced Biofuel industry for the next two years at production levels far below where they are today,” Steckel said. “Biodiesel is an RFS success story, and this proposal turns its back on that success and on the producers who have made it happen.”

NBB points out the biodiesel industry is on track to produce a record of about 1.7 billion gallons this year, which makes the EPA’s target for the next two years of only 1.28 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel even more puzzling. NBB has already projected the proposal could cost 8,000 jobs or more.

Biodiesel Industry Responds to EPA 2014 RVOs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) today and the biomass-based diesel category was proposed for 1.28 billion gallons, less than what the industry is currently able to produce. Biodiesel production is on track to set a production record exceeding 1.7 billion gallons this year, using an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, agricultural oils and animal fats.

In response, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) warned that the EPA’s 2014 proposal would cause plant closures and layoffs in the U.S. biodiesel industry and called on the Obama Administration to recommit to developing American-made Advanced Biofuels.

nbb-logo“The growth in domestic biodiesel production dovetails exactly with President Obama’s statement in July of this year that ‘biofuels are already reducing our dependence on oil, cutting pollution and creating jobs around the country,’” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is why EPA’s action today is so surprising and disappointing.”

Steckel continued, “This proposal, if it becomes final, would create a shrinking market, eliminate thousands of jobs and likely cause biodiesel plants to close across the country. It also sends a terrible signal to investors and entrepreneurs that jeopardizes the future development of biodiesel and other Advanced Biofuels in the United States.”

“This Administration has for years supported strong renewable fuels policies and encouraged investment in this industry,” Steckel added. “The private sector has responded to these policies by meeting or exceeding the Advanced Biofuels requirements in every year of the RFS. The Administration should be celebrating that success and continuing the momentum, not retreating.”

Amanda Cunningham of Veros Energy, a biodiesel producer in Moundville, Alabama, is among those in the industry whose job is at risk under the proposal. Cunningham and her husband both work at the company, supporting a family of six children.

“If biodiesel volumes are decreased, it has a hard, hard trickle down impact,” Cunningham said. “We would surely have layoffs; layoffs reduce production; reduced production drops the bottom line; and at that point the plant might as well shut down.” Continue reading