120 companies urge Obama to increase biodiesel target

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014

Nearly 120 biodiesel companies today expressed “alarm” over a proposed renewable fuel rule that is set to be finalized soon by the Obama administration.

In a letter to President Obama, the companies said U.S. EPA’s proposed rule would hamstring their production because it would require that less biodiesel be blended into petroleum-based diesel this year than was actually produced by the industry in 2013.The proposal, which industry observers say EPA is likely to maintain in its final rule, sends a signal that the administration “has thrown in the towel” on the advanced biofuel.

“We are extremely concerned that you could be retreating on your previously unwavering support for biodiesel in a way that would have severe consequences,” the companies wrote.

EPA’s proposal released last November would reduce refiners’ biofuels requirements this year by 16 percent compared with the level set by the 2007 statute that created the renewable fuel standard.

For biodiesel — an advanced biofuel made from soybean oil, animal fats and used cooking grease — EPA has proposed to require at least 1.28 billion gallons be used in 2014 and 2015, below the industry’s actual production last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons.

EPA is expected to send its final version of the rule to the White House for review any day now and to issue a final rule in June.

According to the National Biodiesel Board, there are indications that the administration, while keeping the biodiesel target level, is considering increasing its overall target for advanced biofuels (Greenwire, May 22). Biodiesel supporters say that would open the door for more imports of sugar cane ethanol from Brazil, a fuel that EPA has found qualifies for the advanced biofuel credit.

In their letter today, the biodiesel companies — which represent almost all the active biodiesel producers in the country — said keeping the 1.28 billion target would cause layoffs and plant closures. The companies recalled past support by Obama, who as a senator co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that was the precursor to the current renewable fuel standard and called for an alternative diesel standard of 2 billion gallons by 2015.

“With this EPA proposal, this administration is retreating. We urge you not to,” the companies, led by the National Biodiesel Board, wrote in the letter.