Executives from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and its member companies are testifying at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Public Hearing for Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) for 2019 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2020. NBB and its members ask EPA to set the 2020 Biomass-based Diesel volume at 2.8 billion gallons, based on the agency’s own analysis in the proposed rule showing that volume is achievable next year. The agency must also reduce the uncertainty it has caused by issuing retroactive small refiner hardship exemptions, the industry told EPA staff.
Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), testified, “To provide the certainty that the biodiesel industry needs, EPA should raise the 2020 volume for biomass-based diesel to at least 2.8 billion gallons. That number better aligns with the goals that Congress set for the RFS program. And it will better fulfill the promise of the RFS program.”
Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with NBB added, “I appreciate the agency’s recognition that the biodiesel industry has proven year after year that it can deliver increasing volumes. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that the volumes EPA finalizes will be meaningless, if the agency continues to retroactively reduce them through refinery exemptions.”
Kent Engelbrecht, Biodiesel Trade Manager at Archer Daniels Midland and NBB Board Chairman, stated, “There are many positive elements in this proposal for which we applaud EPA. But these are rendered meaningless unless EPA accounts for waived gallons to make sure the RVO’s are real numbers.”
EPA has estimated that the small refinery hardship exemptions it retroactively granted to refiners reduced the 2016 and 2017 RVOs by a combined 2.25 billion RINs. NBB estimates the 2016 and 2017 exemptions reduced demand for biodiesel by more than 300 million gallons. And since every 100 million gallons of increased biodiesel production supports some 3,200 jobs, NBB estimates the small refinery hardship exemptions puts 9,600 jobs in jeopardy.
Tom Brooks, General Manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel and chair of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, noted that the 300 million gallon loss of biodiesel demand happens to equal Iowa’s 2017 total production almost exactly. “The impact of these exemptions is like wiping out a year’s worth of production in the nation’s top biodiesel-producing state,” he said.