Future Scientists Voice Biodiesel Support in RFS

next_gen_scientists_logo1The future of science is voicing its support for the future of biodiesel. This National Biodiesel Board (NBB) news release says the four student leaders of NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel (NGSB) made sure to get in their comments into the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during its recently completed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) comment period.

“We see your support as an investment in our future,” the co-chairs said in their formal comments. “As scientists, we can contribute to the sustainable growth of biodiesel and make it an even more valuable product for the nation’s fuel supply. Cutting the RFS will weaken our career prospects by introducing undue risk into the biodiesel industry.”

The comments went on to say, “Why do we strongly support renewables? Among other reasons, the process of petroleum and natural gas extraction entails drilling far into the ground, using a number of undisclosed chemicals and questionable methods, all the while hoping that the chemicals will not contaminate groundwater and endanger the public. In contrast, biofuels facilities are installed close to their feedstock sources; directly contribute to the growth of the local economies in which they exist; and operate with a much higher degree of environmental safety and responsibility.

“The RFS has been a highly successful piece of legislation thus far and we hope that you will allow it to continue to function as such moving into the future,” the comments concluded. “Our greatest hope is that the United States will remain the top producer of biofuels among any country, consistent with our tradition of excellence, creating opportunities for youth, and leading the world by example.”

The four co-chairs of NGSB include Bernardo del Campo, Iowa State University; Dan Browne, Texas A&M University; Deval Pandya, University of Texas – Arlington; and Morgan Curtis, Dartmouth College.

Young Scientist’s Share Passion for Biodiesel

nbb-14-three-studentsStudents from across the country took advantage of this year’s National Biodiesel Conference and presented their research to gain feed back and awareness of the biodiesel industry. This opportunity also allowed them to network with fellow researchers and learn more about the biodiesel community.

Chuck met up with three of the young people and they shared what sparked their interest in biodiesel and what their research has consisted of. All three were really excited to see how respective the professionals they presented to were to their new ideas and research.

They also committed about the opportunity to met and ask questions from other fellow students who attended the event. Peer review is an essential part of these in-depth research studies.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with these young scientists here: Interview with Student Scientists

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Foundation’s Never Ending Support

nbb-14-foundationIt is easy to say that many of the promotional opportunities we see from the biodiesel industry wouldn’t be possible without the Biodiesel Foundation. During the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference the foundation was hard at work to raise money in order to increase awareness.

Beth Calabotta, Vice President of the Biodiesel Foundation, shared with Chuck in an interview that their goal is to work to promote biodiesel education, infrastructure and awareness.

“We promoted a sustainability tour where we brought a lot of policy makers and their support staff out to see farms in Iowa and biodiesel plants. They really got a feel for what the renewable fuels industry is. We have co-hosted a tour of some environmental groups from California who had never been to a farm before and actually see how biodiesel is made. We have also been sponsoring some educational studies at Purdue University aimed at really understanding what this indirect land use change is and really improving the science.”

The Foundation has a very wide variety of people on it’s board, including producers, farmers and many others involved and passionate about the industry. Those interested in doing their part and contributing to the Biodiesel Foundation can do so at www.BiodieselFoundation.org.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Beth here: Interview with Beth Calabotta

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Farm Polices Impact on Precision Ag

nbb-14-kevin-rossMember of the National Corn Growers Association Board and director of Western Iowa Energy, LLC, Kevin Ross, chatted with Chuck after the opening session at the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference. They discuss farm policy and how precision agriculture technology has impacted his farming operation where he raises cattle and grows corn and soybeans.

Kevin shared that if we don’t move past what RFS has already provided then we become stuck and the innovation stops. He says everyone needs to do what they can to ensure the investments continue and technologies are utilized. He feels the government has given mixed signals and believes simple education on the issue could help.

“The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) itself is vitally important to my operation at home and to my neighbors. Not just from the farming side, but also from the livestock side. Especially, operations like mine in western Iowa where we can utilize the fats and add value back to the livestock. I am not sure how many people know that its even possible. Let alone be done on an industrial scale. Agriculture is about value-added. Creating markets in those new economies within a broader ag industry is what it is all about.”

Kevin goes on to discuss what types of precision agriculture they have taken advantage of on his operation.

“On our farm it has been a fast ramp up of precision technology. Just a couple years ago on our own farm we’ve gone to auto steer. I couldn’t plant straight rows if I tried. We also use single row shut-offs and it has been a huge plus for us. Overall newer equipment is more efficient with yield monitors and data that we collect. We are going into a new soil data collection phase on our farm which is an entirely new way of doing it then before. We have made major advancement in the recent years and profitability in ag and RFS have really had a huge role in making that possible.”

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Kevin here: Interview with Kevin Ross

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Growing Use of Technology for Growers

nbb-14-frank-legnerCommodity groups across the country also took interest in the happenings at the recent National Biodiesel Conference. Frank Legner, Legner Farms is a member of the Illinois Soybean Association and attended the conference to relay the update on biodiesel to growers in Illinois. He talks about how he uses precision agriculture on his farm where they grow 50/50 soybeans and corn.

“With the high prices of commodities in the years previous farmers have used their capital in many different ways. Our farming operation decided to put our capital towards technology. Where we farm you could have about four different soil types on a piece of land and those soil types all have different productivity indexes that have been benchmarked from the University of Illinois. We use those soil maps as a good foundation of how we are going to come up with a plan. We soil sample on two and a half acre grids and when we make these sample sites we overlay them on our SMS advance desktop software to make sure that sample site is in one soil sample. When we get the readings from the lab, we use that to write our VRT recommendations.”

They can then compare results from previous years and start selecting what hybrids will work in each field. Frank said it is kind of like a draft. The multiple hybrid planting is something that he sees them utilizing in the very near future as well.

Frank also shared that colors don’t mix when you are dealing with this level of technology. He shared that precision planting has been the best way for them to use their green planter with their red tractor. Legner Farms has truly adopted the use of technology to create efficiency and increase profitability. He goes on to explain how they have taken advantage of different precision ag company’s innovations and looks forward to seeing what’s next.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Frank here: Interview with Frank Legner

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Record Prompts Call to Reverse RFS Cuts

biodiesellogo1American biodiesel producers set a record with nearly 1.8 billion gallons produced in 2013. While the record is nice, it’s also a cruel, ironic reminder that the same government office reporting this milestone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is also trying to lower the amount of biodiesel to be mixed into the Nation’s fuel supply down to just 1.28 billion gallons in 2014. The National Biodiesel Board is calling on the Obama Administration to change direction on this policy that will hurt the industry just as biodiesel is celebrating its greatest success.

“The success of the biodiesel industry in 2013 proves that the RFS is working today and stimulating the commercial-scale production of advanced biofuel,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the U.S. trade association. “It also makes it incredibly frustrating that the Obama Administration is backing away from this progress with its recent RFS proposal.”

“If our industry produced 1.8 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuel in 2013, why is the Administration retreating to 1.28 billion gallons for 2014?” Jobe asked. “We’re proving it can be done. What we need is consistent policy, and that is sorely lacking in Washington right now.”

“It is incomprehensible that an Administration that has unequivocally supported renewable fuels since Day One has suddenly decided to retreat on the first Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide,” Jobe said. “It threatens biodiesel businesses across the country and thousands of jobs, and it undercuts the Administration’s stated priority of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

NBB officials go on to point out that with some excess 2013 biodiesel production “carried over” into 2014, the real Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) number for biodiesel will be about 1 billion gallons, about half of what is now produced. Throw in a lapsed $1-a-gallon federal biodiesel credit, and the more than 62,000 biodiesel industry jobs in this country could be in big trouble this year.

Views on the Biodiesel Policy Climate

Biodiesel Policy PanelTwo former members of Congress talked about attacks on the Renewable Fuel Standard at the National Biodiesel Conference this week in San Diego.

Former Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, now a DC policy advisory, says the EPA proposal to lower RFS volume obligations this year is inexplicable. “The Obama Administration has always supported renewable fuels,” he said during a general session policy panel. “They will, I assume, say that these mandates support renewable fuels. But they know that these mandates are below what they should be, they have to be adjusted.”

Former Congressman Kenny Hulshof of Missouri, a Republican and founder of the Missouri energy initiative, agrees it is inexplicable, but reasoned that backlash against ethanol and the 2012 drought played a role in the proposal. “I think the EPA came under some very intense political scrutiny, that’s when you saw a lot of bills being introduced to repeal the RFS,” he said.

Dorgan thinks it’s unlikely Congress will repeal the RFS, the first version of which he helped write in 2005. “I think that would be a horrible mistake. Fortunately, the Congress can’t agree on anything,” said the former senator, adding that the president would veto the bill if they tried.

Both Dorgan and Hulshof believe Congress will eventually extend the biodiesel tax incentive which expired at the end of 2013.

You can listen to the session, moderated by National Biodiesel Board Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel, here: Policy Climate Session

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Eye on Biodiesel Industry Partnership Award

Kirk LeedsThe Eye on Biodiesel Award for Industry Partnership was presented to Kirk Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association this morning.

Kirk is Chief Executive Officer of the Association and has been a leader among soybean organizations in supporting biodiesel efforts since the industry’s inception. ISA’s support of the National Biodiesel Board over the years has allowed the industry to prepare and face the challenges of being a billion-plus-gallon Advanced Biofuel. His visionary leadership has helped to maintain a mutually-beneficial, strong connection between the soybean and biodiesel industries. Kirk and ISA have been at the forefront of improving agriculture’s environmental performance. Through partnerships with farmers, environmental groups, agri-business and academia, ISA is helping lead efforts to identify practical solutions for complex environmental issues.

You can listen to Kirk’s remarks here: Kirk Leeds Remarks

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

CARB Receives Eye on Biodiesel Award

Richard CoreyReceiving the National Biodiesel Board’s Eye on Biodiesel Impact Award for the California Clean Air Resources Board was Richard Corey, Executive Officer.

The State of California continues to serve as a national and world leader in regulations related to environmental sustainability, and the California Air Resources Board is at the heart of those efforts. In January of 2010, Air Resources Board staff successfully implemented the first ever market-oriented carbon reduction policy for transportation fuels, a policy known as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Since that time, use and production of biodiesel and other renewable fuels has increased significantly. Californians have since enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air, growth in green jobs, and increased fuel diversity.

You can listen to Richard’s remarks here: Richard Corey Remarks

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

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