January 28, 2014

Biodiesel Industry Celebrates Annual Production Record

Last week more than 1,100 members of the biodiesel industry from across the country gathered in San Diego for the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. While industry leaders can point to another year of record growth with more than 1.8 billion gallons of biodiesel produced in 2013, a recent proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has producers wary that the market could be dramatically reduced.

“The biodiesel industry hit a grand slam in 2013, hitting an average annualized monthly production rate of 2 billion gallons for the last half of the year – double that of last year’s record,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “The EPA’s volume proposal for 2014 would effectively cut the volumes in half from current production levels.  I can’t think of a more unacceptable example of a call for full retreat during such an overwhelming victory.”

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.”

One of the most influential policies in the energy sector is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). Jobe explained, “The Renewable Fuel Standard is effective policy that is working. It is fulfilling its intention to establish diversity, competition, and choice in the transportation fuel sector, which is why the incumbent industry is trying to kill it.”

Today is the final day for the industry to submit official comments to EPA on the proposal with thousands of supporters already doing so. The industry is also eagerly awaiting President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight for additional clarity regarding his position on renewable fuels.

While this critical federal proposal was the topic of general session speakers, breakout sessions, and hallway conversations among attendees, there were many other activities at the industry’s annual event. Attendees heard from automakers, fleet users, and consumers about their biodiesel use and got to test out a number of new diesel models during the Ride-and-Drive and Vehicle Showcase events.

A record number of students from across the country participated as part of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. The NBB program has led to increased communication and collaboration between the biodiesel industry and universities involved in biodiesel research. Thirty-six students representing 18 different universities attended the conference with a handful presenting their research during a student-focused breakout session and through a student poster session on the tradeshow floor.

Also, NBB recognized leadership and achievements within the industry with the annual “Eye on Biodiesel” awards. The honorees were: Impact Award, the California Air Resources Board; Innovation Award, General Motors for the B20-approved Chevrolet Cruze; Industry Partnership, Kirk Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association; and Inspiration Award, Len Hering, RADM, USN, California Center for Sustainable Energy.

“The biodiesel industry would not be what it is without champions and supporters like these Eye on Biodiesel honorees,” said Jobe. “We are proud to honor our award winners who have made a substantial impact in getting biodiesel to where it is today, a fully commercialized advanced biofuel that is produced from coast to coast.”

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