Biodiesel on the ropes after EPA punches, but support leaves soy industry hopeful
WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s a federal program designed to increase markets for American farmers, decrease U.S. dependency on foreign oil, and curb the carbon footprint through reduced emissions. Yet, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is again taking hits this year from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the form of small refinery waivers and flat biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels volumes for 2020/2021 that, in effect, send the industry staggering backwards.
“These decisions are a one-two punch for the biofuel industry, and bottom line, farmers. But, we are heartened by the support we are getting from USDA and members of Congress, including Senator Grassley and many others speaking up and fighting for the RFS. They understand the value not just for biodiesel producers and soybean farmers, but rural economies, the environment, and U.S. consumers,” said Rob Shaffer, American Soybean Association (ASA) director and chair of the organization’s Biodiesel and Infrastructure Committee.
Immediately following EPA’s decision to allow 31 additional small refinery exemptions, one of the largest biodiesel producers in the country announced the shutdown of three plants located in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Mississippi. Other large producers have announced closings and laid off workers, with more closings and layoffs likely if these policies remain unstable.
Shaffer continued, “We may be reeling, but we are not KO’d. Congress can enact an extension of the biodiesel tax credit, and the administration can still get the RFS back on stable footing. This program, with their help, can accomplish what was intended: Higher levels of domestic, renewable fuels that enhance energy diversity and security; promotion of jobs and value for farmers and rural economies; and environmental benefits from reduced emissions.”
ASA asks that President Trump uphold his commitments to support the RFS and American farmers by increasing the RFS, and urges Congress to get the biodiesel tax credit extension completed. Retroactive waivers of RFS volumes, the zero growth proposed for future RFS volumes, and inaction on the biodiesel tax credit are all compounding pressure on a soybean industry already facing a down farm economy, the lingering trade war with China, and seasonal weather-related issues.