U.S. industry lobby group the National Biodiesel Board has asked the Environment Protection Agency to immediately establish biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard as it highlighted fallout from the government’s failure to establish a clear renewable fuels policy for the second consecutive year.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, former biodiesel producer and NBB Governing Board Member Ben Wootton challenged McCarthy’s recent comments suggesting that the RFS delays haven’t hurt renewable fuels industries. Wootton lost his Pennsylvania biodiesel plant, Keystone Biofuels, in bankruptcy last year as a result of RFS uncertainty. In his letter, he explained to McCarthy how the loss of his plant also forced him to lay off 30 employees and caused him to lose his daughters’ college funds and his retirement savings.
Wootton pointed to a statement late last year in which McCarthy said: “While I would have preferred to have this rule done earlier, it hasn’t slowed down that industry that I can see.”
“I would invite Administrator McCarthy to come to my shuttered plant and talk to some of the laid off workers, or to visit practically any biodiesel plant across the country to see the damage that is taking place,” Wootton said.“It is obvious that this administration doesn’t understand the severe damage that the uncertainty surrounding this rule has caused our industry and the thousands of employees it represents. It is beyond frustrating that an Administration I have strongly supported has inflicted so much harm on an industry it says it supports.”
The EPA has failed to establish biodiesel volume requirements under the RFS for 2014, 2015 and 2016, the NBB said. “Under statute, all three years’ volumes should have been set,” it said.
“While certain sectors of the renewable fuels industry have fared better in absorbing the RFS uncertainty – particularly more mature industries such as corn ethanol – the delays have been disastrous for new industries still getting off the ground. This is particularly true for biodiesel, the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel under the RFS to reach commercial-scale production nationwide.”
The EPA earlier this week approved a streamlined approach for allowing imports of Argentinian biodiesel into the U.S. – fast-tracking foreign imports under the RFS that are subsidized by Argentinian tax policy and are likely to undercut U.S. production. The decision has been perceived by biodiesel producers and the domestic soybean industry as adding insult to injury, the NBB said.