Biodiesel production reaching record levels

Jan. 11, 2012
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that nearly 108 million gallons of biomass-based diesel were sold during the month of November

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that nearly 108 million gallons of biomass-based diesel were sold during the month of November. That milestone, according to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) lobby, continues a record year for biodiesel production. NBB notes that biodiesel “makes up the vast majority of the EPA’s biomass-based diesel category under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, representing about 95% of the volume this year.”

Biodiesel production specifically had reached an all-time high of 908 million gallons just through the end of November, according to annual figures compiled by EPA. The previous annual record for biodiesel production was 690 million gallons in 2008.

NBB notes biodiesel is now produced in nearly every state in the nation and is on pace to replace roughly 1 billion gallons of petroleum diesel. It is produced from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks, such as agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, and is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet EPA’s definition as an advanced biofuel. Biodiesel can be used in existing diesel engines and meets the ASTM D6751 fuel spec.

Released in December, EPA’s final rule establishing U.S. renewable fuel requirements for 2012 raises the biomass-based diesel program to 1 billion gallons, up from 800 million gallons in 2011. Not wasting anytime, right on the heels of the EPA announcement, NBB said it will push the Obama administration “to act quickly in completing a 2013 rule that maintains the EPA’s recommended volume increases for biomass-based diesel.”

“This industry has shown without a doubt that it can meet and exceed the goals of this program in a sustainable way, with a diverse mix of feedstocks,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at NBB. “Our industry has plants in nearly every state in the country that are hiring new employees and ramping up production, in part because of the demand that this policy creates. As the only EPA-designated advanced biofuel being produced on a commercial scale nationwide, we look forward to continued growth in 2012.”

Steckel urged EPA to issue a final rule for 2013 volumes raising the biomass-based diesel requirement to 1.28 billion gallons, as the EPA proposed earlier in 2011. But EPA said in December it was postponing finalizing the 2013 volume, citing more time needed for review.

“We would have preferred to see that number released in this announcement and hope to see it finalized soon so that our member companies can plan their investments and continue boosting this economy,” Steckel said. “The increase will create thousands of jobs, improve our energy security by diversifying the fuel supply and cut down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to NBB, a recent economic study on Biodiesel found that domestic production of just 800 million gallons supports more than 31,225 jobs, generates income of nearly $1.7 billion to be circulated throughout the economy, and creates more than $3 billion in GDP.

At 1.28 billion gallons of production—which is EPA’s initial proposal for 2013 - the biodiesel industry would support 50,725 jobs, generate $2.7 billion in income, and create nearly $5 billion in GDP, stated NBB.

Biodiesel makes up the vast majority of the biomass-based diesel program under EPA’s RFS program. Because it also qualifies as an advanced biofuel under the program - with greenhouse gas emission reductions of 57 to 86% - biodiesel is also eligible to help meet the program’s general advanced biofuels requirements.

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