Biodiesel industry visits Hill to rally support for RFS

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The biodiesel industry is following the launch of a national ad campaign with a visit to Capitol Hill today to urge lawmakers to maintain support for federal biofuel policies.

More than 100 members of the National Biodiesel Board will be visiting congressional offices today to push lawmakers to back the renewable fuel standard, through which U.S. EPA sets yearly levels of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuel production. They are also pushing for a multi-year extension of a key tax incentive.

“The petroleum lobby is making a lot of noise about renewable fuels, and we’re coming to town to make sure that Congress hears the other side of the story,” said Todd Ellis, vice president of sales and business development at Imperium Renewables, a biodiesel company based in Seattle.

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from soybean oil, used cooking grease or animal fats. EPA has classified it as an advanced biofuel under the standard and has set annual levels for the last several years that must be blended into petroleum-based diesel. This year, the agency is requiring that 1.28 billion gallons be added to the diesel fuel supply.

The renewable fuel standard, though, has taken heat in recent months from opponents in the oil and livestock industries for targets that they say are unrealistic given today’s market conditions. While the attention has mostly been focused on conventional ethanol and cellulosic biofuels, the biodiesel industry has taken its share of criticism. An oil refining group has filed a lawsuit against EPA over the biodiesel target, and recent fraud cases in the biodiesel credit market have hurt smaller producers.

Biodiesel advocates plan to tell lawmakers that they continue to need a stable policy in order to grow their industry and that the nation needs alternatives to oil. Yesterday, the National Biodiesel Board launched a national TV ad campaign to promote the same message (E&ENews PM, June 10).

“No matter how much domestic oil and gas we find through fracking or new drilling, consumers will continue getting hurt by unstable global petroleum markets until we develop alternatives to oil,” Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs, said today.

On Capitol Hill, the biodiesel board will also advocate for the extension of the $1-per-gallon biodiesel producers’ tax credit. The incentive expired at the end of 2011 and was retroactively extended as part of the “fiscal cliff” package signed into law in early January. While it is in place now, it’s set to expire again at the end of this year.