Sluggish Renewable Fuel Volume announcements from Washington, D.C. are to blame in part for the lower biodiesel production numbers and shrinking consumption recorded by the U.S. EPA in 2014, the National Biodiesel Board said Thursday.
EPA said total U.S. biodiesel consumption fell to 1.75 billion gallons for the year, down slightly from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013. NBB suggested the downturn was due to both the lapsed $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive at the beginning of 2014 and delayed RFS volume announcements.
"These numbers reflect the consequences of policy inaction," Joe Jobe, CEO of NBB said in a released statement. The drop in production, he said, translates into lost jobs and limited economic activity, as well as a "lost opportunity" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
NBB says according to EPA figures, biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57% to 86% compared with petroleum diesel. The industry supports an estimated 60,000 jobs.
2014 production volumes for the RFS, which were proposed near the end of 2013, have been withheld. According to the EPA, they will be released in 2015, though a specific date or month hasn't been released.
The continued uncertainty throughout the year left biodiesel producers to wonder what the next policy would look like, NBB says, although many biodiesel companies continued producing based on assurances from the Administration that RFS volumes would increase.
Jobe notes that the back-and-forth on the RFS has cost the industry businesses.
"Companies can operate on faith for only so long. We have already seen many producers close their doors, and many others are struggling to stay open as we enter a New Year with continued uncertainty," he said.
Jobe called the interruptions unnecessary. "This is an industry that should be growing, and that has proven it can expand with smart policies in place. Yet we have this paralysis in Washington. Biodiesel companies simply can't plan for growth or hire new people with the kind of uncertainty we have now.
"We are calling on the Obama Administration to get things back on track immediately by finalizing biodiesel RFS volumes that pave the way for stable growth in the coming years," Jobe said. "Additionally, we are urging Congress to reinstate the biodiesel tax incentive now instead of procrastinating until the final days of the session."
News source: NBB