Policies that will Help Grow the Industry
The past 12 months have been a rough time for the biodiesel industry and some believe much of the biodiesel industry’s problems are self-induced. The industry has been betting that two federal policies, a tax credit (blenders credit) and production requirement (called the Renewable Fuel Standard), would help turn things around.
While there is plenty to criticize in the rule, it does represent a significant step toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuel for transportation. In the grand scheme, it is a small step, as EPA projects that the 36 billion gallons that will be produced annually by 2022 to meet the rule will only represent approximately 7-11% of the total fuel use in the U.S. that year.
Two Conferences Show Different Sides of Industry
I recently attended the NBB annual conference, held this Feburary in Grapevine, Texas. For the last several years, NBB conferences have been preceded by another conference, the Sustainable Biodiesel Summit (SBS). Myself and several SACE/CleanEnergy Biofuels (CEB) staff attended the SBS before the much larger NBB. The smaller sustainable summits have been going on since 2003, when some community-based biodiesel leaders felt that the NBB was too heavily dominated by large scale intensive agriculture interest, particularly soybean growers.
NBB was indeed started in 1992 by state soybean commodity groups who were funding biodiesel research and development programs. NBB has attempted to evolve into a more feedstock-neutral trade organization, but still retains a strong soybean perspective in the organization’s leadership.
Both conferences provide a wealth of information and insight into the rapidly evolving world on biodiesel and the larger biofuels debates. While the SBS is an independent event, there is a Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance and most of the SBS participants are also members of the Alliance. The SBS has a very different feel than NBB. It’s much smaller, for one. Around 70-80 people attended the SBS conference as compared to more than 400 people at the NBB. Also, the NBB has more glitzy stagecraft and multimedia, including a large vendor’s exhibit hall. The SBS is a lower budget, small scale interactive event. While both events where in held in Grapevine, TX, SBS was held at a small winery, as opposed to NBB, which was held at the Gaylord Texan.
Of course, NBB serves its purpose as many feel the “big stage” brings the “big players”. For example, several of the big three automakers were on hand to announce higher percentage of allowed biodiesel in their new trucks. It’s important to note that the national conference is not all show; it also has smaller focused break-out sessions that provide good information on a number of topics.
This will be a critical year for biodiesel, as the RFS2 is implemented. SACE is committed to advocating for low carbon, environmentally responsible fuel production. Biodiesel can meet these criteria if produced with these goals in mind.