It has become increasingly clear that dependence on petroleum is a national security threat, public health concern, and economic drain on our country. Because of the daunting task of reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil, the EPA created the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) which is meant to encourage the development and growth of the biofuels industry in the US. Since the RFS was implemented in 2005, the biodiesel industry has seen tremendous growth. This year alone biodiesel volumes will reach approximately 1.7 billion gallons nationally. This is about 420 million gallons over the 1.28 billion gallon requirement the EPA set for 2013. The biodiesel industry has exceeded the EPA’s requirements every year running and is showing no signs of slowing – that is unless the opponents of renewable fuels get their way and they are putting an increasing amount of pressure to reduce and ultimately repeal the RFS.
With all the benefits and the strong growth shown by the biodiesel industry it is baffling why the EPA is proposing to reduce the volume requirements for biodiesel in 2014 and 2015. Over the past year there has been tremendous pressure to reduce the RFS mandates because the ethanol industry is nearing the point where they will produce more ethanol than a 10% national blend can adsorb. Why the EPA would propose reducing biodiesel volumes to appease concerns over what is known as the “ethanol blend wall” is unclear. Biodiesel is actually a premium fuel adding lubricity and increased performance to a diesel engine. Biodiesel is the only commercially available advanced biofuels as defined by the EPA with a carbon life cycle reduction of greater than 50% as compared to diesel fuel. Biodiesel has tremendous support in Washington on both sides of the aisle. Based on all the evidence the biodiesel volumes should be growing not shrinking.
If the EPA proposal stands as it is currently written the biodiesel industry is going to suffer a serious setback. It will mean that thousands of jobs will be lost, many plants will be forced to close or sit idle, and investment in new technology, new feedstocks, and new plants will come to a halt. For Blue Ridge Biofuels the results could be disastrous. We have 10 employees that we pay a living wage, certified by Just Economics. We also have three contractors and various vendors that depend on us for their income. Worst case scenario is that we may have to lay off some of our staff and raise the price of our biodiesel product to our customers. Depending on how much of a premium our many loyal customers are willing to pay we may be forced to stop production of biodiesel and sell the used cooking oil we collect to make ends meet. Our plans for growth will be put on hold and western North Carolina will lose the major economic, and environmental benefits that come with a local biodiesel producer.
Today you have a chance to make a difference. The EPA has opened up a 60 day public comment period on their proposed biodiesel volume requirements. We need you and all of your friends to send a letter to the EPA encouraging them to increase the biodiesel volumes to at least 1.7 billion gallons. There is still a chance that the EPA can change their decision and an outpouring of public support is going to be what makes the difference. To make it as easy as possible to let the EPA know you support an increase in US-made biodiesel, the National Biodiesel Board has created an electronic letter that can be quickly and easily submitted to the EPA. Please take a minute, follow the link provided and send a letter to the EPA. Then forward this blog post to all your friends and encourage them to do the same. You can also find a link on our Facebook page. Please Like the link and repost on your own page.
The more people who tell the EPA we support biodiesel over petroleum diesel the better for our environment, national security, and local economies.
Thanks for your support!
Woodrow Eaton, General Manager