The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Biodiesel industry sees support for raising volume under RFS

The National Biodiesel Board said today that the Obama administration’s recognition of the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard in increasing domestic fuel production signals that the White House should approve a proposal to raise the biodiesel volume requirement under the RFS from 1 billion gallons to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013.

Seven key administration officials, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Healther Zichal, the deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, today delivered President Barack Obama a report entitled The Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future: One-Year Progress Report. The report pointed out that foreign oil imports have decreased by a million barrels a day in the last year and highlighted a number of initiatives, including the RFS, various renewable fuels projects and increased energy efficiency.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the biodiesel increase, but it is under review at the Office of Management and Budget. Administration officials have said OMB wants to be sure that the industry can supply that amount, but the National Biodiesel Board has noted that the industry produced 1.1 billion gallons in 2011.
Anne Steckel

Anne Steckel
“The Obama administration should continue this progress by raising the volume standard for biodiesel next year as the EPA has proposed. Thousands of jobs in our industry as well as improved U.S. energy stability depend on that decision,” Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board said in a news release.

Bipartisan coalitions in Congress – 34 House members and 26 senators — sent the White House separate letters last week urging that the requirements be raised.

“We were pleased to hear your call for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy in your State of the Union address,” the House members wrote to Obama, adding that they wanted “to express our concern about the ongoing delay” over the final rule

“With 1.28 billion gallons of overall production, the biodiesel industry would support 50,725 jobs nationwide, along with $2.7 billion in household income and $4.9 billion in GDP,” the House members added.

The status quo requirement, they said, “will reverse the growth of the domestic biodiesel industry, downsize manufacturing jobs, and increase our dependence on imported oil.”

The senators, in their letter to OMB Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, noted that “in 2007, Congress made a long-term policy determination that it was in the best interest of our nation to expand the use of renewable fuels by 2011.”

“We remain committed to this long-term national energy goal, and believe that timely increases in the biodiesel volumetric requirement will send important signals to capital markets, and encourage new private-sector investment that will be critical to the development and commercialization of the next generation of advanced biofuels,” the letter from the senators said.

Steckel, noting that Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Leonard Boswell, D-N.C. and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., had organized the letters, said the geographic breadth of the signatures shows there is support for the biodiesel industry across the country.

Steckel said that biodiesel is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the country to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition as an advanced biofuel, and that EPA has determined it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel.

The Senate is also expected to vote this week on amendments that would extend the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax incentive.