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US biodiesel volumes

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

It has been reported that a bipartisan group of 32 US senators, including Washington state’s Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, is calling on the EPA to move quickly in approving strong biodiesel volumes under the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS). The senators expressed concern about the EPA’s delays in implementing the RFS standards for last year, this year and next, noting that the delays have created tremendous uncertainty for the US biodiesel industry, including Seattle based Imperium Renewables, which operates one of the largest biodiesel refineries in the country in Hoquiam, Washington.

John Plaza, CEO, Imperium Renewables said, “Imperium is grateful for Senators Murray, Cantwell and their colleagues for holding EPA accountable on this crucial issue for American biofuel companies. EPA’s delays are endangering our industry. Biofuel facilities around the nation are sitting idle, workers are being laid off, and some producers have been forced out of business entirely.”

The problems

The EPA is over two years late in establishing biodiesel volumes under the RFS after failing to establish a requirement for 2014 and 2015. The continued uncertainty under the policy has destabilised the industry, causing many US production plants to stop production and lay off employees. The senators also pointed to a recent harmful decision by the EPA that will make importing biodiesel from Argentina, further eroding the industry, and called on the EPA to account for the anticipated increase in imports when it sets biodiesel volumes to prevent the displacement of domestic production.

RFS and more

Biodiesel is made form a variety of resources including canola oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats. It is produced in nearly every state in America and supports approximately 60 000 jobs. According to the EPA, biodiesel reduces GHG emissions by 57 – 86% compared with petroleum diesel.

The current RFS was established by Congress in 2007 and requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of conventional ethanol and advanced biofuels into petroleum fuel. Biodiesel, a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils, used cooking grease and animal fats, is considered an advanced biofuel under the program. However in November 2013, EPA proposed to set the 2014 and 2015 standards for biodiesel at 1.28 billion gal. This level is far below previous years of production, and the biodiesel industry has said that this has underestimated their expected production. The EPA never finalised the proposal, which also called for cuts to the mandates for conventional ethanol and other advanced fuels.

In the above mentioned letter, the senators also said the EPA should increase the volumes for following years to take into account for a recent decision to change the requirements for Argentinean biodiesel to qualify for the program. Domestic biodiesel producers have condemned EPA’s decision, charging that it would lead to increased amounts of biodiesel entering the US.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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