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New Decade: Big for Biofuels

Happy New Year! And Happy New Decade! This should be quite a decade as far as biofuels are concerned—starting with whether the EPA decides to allow 15% of ethanol to be blended into gasoline later this year and continuing on to the 30 billion gallons of renewable fuel required by 2020 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). Over this decade, we can expect to see big advances in the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol and much more.

As we begin this new decade, many industry leaders and farmers are also focused on producing biofuels in a sustainable manner. In fact, the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, Austin, TX, has published Baseline Practices for Sustainability.

The Alliance will hold its annual Sustainable Biodiesel Summit, Feb. 6-7, in Grapevine, TX. For more details, visit The Summit will be attended by farmers, community-scale producers and others interested in the sustainable harvesting and collection of biodiesel feedstocks as well as the sustainable biodiesel production and distribution. Bill Holmberg, chairman, Biomass Coordinating Council, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), will be the keynote speaker. The Summit will include a tour of Willie’s Place at Carl’s Corner, the truck stop and biodiesel production facility invested in by singer and biodiesel promoter Willie Nelson.

The Summit is being held just prior to the National Biodiesel Conference, Feb. 7-10, also held in Grapevine at the Gaylord Texas Resort & Convention Center. For more information, visit One of the many interesting sessions at this meeting will be “Climate Change, Carbon Policy and the U.S. Biodiesel Industry.” As the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) points out, various legislative and regulatory actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will impact all sectors of the economy, including the biodiesel industry. This session will address how different policy options would impact the business.

Another interesting session will be “Black Gold, Texas Tea: Where Will Biodiesel Sit at the Oil Company Table?” No less than one billion gallons of biomass-based diesel per year over the next decade will be required under RFS2. NBB notes that if oil companies are not yet in the biodiesel business, the RFS will probably prompt them to add biofuels to their product lines, adding that this has “the potential to double biodiesel production in a single year.”

Similarly, oil company representatives will talk about their investments in ethanol during the National Ethanol Conference, Feb. 15-17, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL. For information, visit

Another important session for both farmers and ethanol producers will address the indirect land use change debate.

The theme for this year’s National Ethanol Conference is aptly entitled “Climate of Opportunity.” With discussions heating up over climate change, reliance on foreign oil and new job creation, this decade will indeed present a climate of opportunity for those who can produce biofuels—from feedstock to fuel—in a sustainable manner.

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