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Iowa Biodiesel Tour Educates Policy Makers

Iowa Biodiesel Tour Educates Policy Makers

Staffers who make policy in Washington D.C., along with government regulators, came to Iowa last week to learn about America's advanced biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel fuel.

The hot topic in Iowa continues to be biofuels—week in and week out. But it got a little hotter than usual a few weeks ago when Iowa State University again hosted a group of Washington DC policymakers and regulators for the Third Annual Biofuels: Science and Sustainability Tour. As part of the tour, National Biodiesel Board representatives spoke to the people in attendance about biodiesel topics including sustainability, federal policy, feedstock development and biodiesel economics. Speakers included:

Don Scott--NBB Director of Sustainability

Alan Weber--feedstock expert, NBB

Gary Haer--BB Chairman, Renewable Energy Group

Grant Kimberley- Iowa Soybean Association, NBB member

It's important for federal policymakers to understand biodiesel's role

"It is important that federal policymakers and regulators understand biodiesel's role as America's advanced biofuel. This hands-on platform highlights biodiesel industry experts who are commercializing additional renewable resources and creating green-collar manufacturing jobs across the country," says Gary Haer, NBB chairman. "Having a conversation with D.C. decision-makers on-site at an Iowa biorefinery allows us to cut through the clutter so that these decision makers in Washington can be truly informed when discussing biodiesel's role in securing America's energy future."

The tour last month included stops at Iowa Renewable Energy Biodiesel refinery, Big River Resources Ethanol Refinery, a family farm in Washington, Iowa, the Iowa Speedway, and Iowa State University research facilities at Ames.

The tour was hosted and sponsored by the Iowa State University Bioeconomy Institute, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Foundation, Renewable Fuels Foundation, Big River Resources, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Renewable Products Marketing Group.

For more details on biodiesel's benefits, including economic and job boosts, energy security, and environmental, visit

Biodiesel industry producing record volumes, fueling job creation

Biodiesel production in the U. S. reached a new monthly high of 81 million gallons in June, according to the latest EPA statistics. That makes it a third consecutive month of record volumes produced--and continuing a remarkable turnaround in which biodiesel production in the first half of 2011 has already eclipsed production for all of 2010.

The new numbers (coming after Congress reinstated the biodiesel tax incentive this year) demonstrate the power that strong domestic energy policy can have in helping create jobs and economic activity.

Despite the weak economy, U.S. biodiesel industry is on track to produce at least 800 million gallons this year, more than double biodiesel production of 315 million gallons last year, when Congress let the biodiesel tax incentive temporarily lapse. According to a recent study, this year's rejuvenated production will support more than 31,000 U.S. jobs and generate income of nearly $1.7 billion to be circulated throughout the economy. It also is expected to generate an estimated $345 million in federal tax revenue and $283 million in state and local tax revenues.

Ramping up production, doubling number of employees, in a recession

"We've dramatically increased production and doubled our number of employees at a time when many industries are shrinking or treading water," says Ben Wootton, owner of Keystone Biofuels in Camp Hill, Pa.  "It's like night and day from 2010. I think that's a testament to biodiesel's staying power as an advanced biofuel and also to strong federal policy. We're a young industry, and we wouldn't be where we are today without the tax incentive, and a lot more people would be standing in the unemployment line."

Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, the industry trade association, adds: "Policy makers should take a look at our experience over the last couple of years. It's a textbook case in how sound energy policy equates to sound economic policy. Congress should not allow the biodiesel tax incentive to expire again at the end of 2011. In this kind of economy, we need every tool we have."

Biodiesel industry has bounced back quickly from last year's fiasco

Since the introduction of the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit in 2005, U.S. biodiesel production climbed steadily until 2010, when Congress allowed the tax credit incentive to lapse temporarily as the health care debate in Congress overshadowed other issues. Production immediately plummeted from a record of about 700 million gallons in 2008 to about 315 million gallons in 2010.

However, the biodiesel industry has bounced back quickly this year, after Congress reinstated the tax incentive in December 2010 and the EPA included biodiesel as an Advanced Biofuel in its new Renewable Fuels Program (RFS2), requiring minimum volumes of biodiesel use in U.S. fuels. In the first six months of this year, U.S. biodiesel production already has exceeded 375 million gallons.

Grassley introduces bill to extend biodiesel blenders tax incetive

The federal tax credit is again slated to expire in December of this year, threatening industry momentum and jobs. Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a bill (S. 1277) in the Senate to extend the tax incentive for three years. Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn. have introduced a similar bill, H.R. 2238, in the House.

"Biodiesel is America's first advanced biofuel--a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is reducing U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum, creating green jobs and improving our environment," says Jobe. "Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, it is the first and only commercial-scale fuel used across the U.S. to meet the EPA's definition as an advanced biofuel. It is produced in nearly every state in the country and can be used in existing diesel engines."

To see the EPA's production numbers, see the volumes numbers in the "Biomass-based Diesel" category on EPA's website:

To see the most recent economic analysis on the biodiesel industry, go to:
TAGS: Soybean
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