WASHINGTON, D.C. — Biodiesel consumption in the U.S. fell from nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013 to 1.75 billion gallons in 2014, according to EPA data released last week.
In response to the market slump, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) pointed to policy uncertainty in Washington, which the trade group said destabilized the industry and caused many biodiesel plants to shut down or reduce production.
According to the NBB, the downturn came as the Obama Administration failed to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and Congress allowed the biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014 (although it was renewed at the end of the year).
“The numbers would have been even lower had the EPA not signaled throughout the year that it will strengthen the RFS proposal and finalize it promptly,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the NBB. “But 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.”
Biodiesel is made from a variety of resources, including recycled cooking oil, plant oils such as soybean oil, and animal fats. According to the NBB, the biodiesel industry has plants in almost every state and supports some 60,000 jobs. The 2013 total U.S. biodiesel consumption of nearly 1.8 billion gallons was a record high.
“This is an industry that should be growing, and that has proven it can expand with smart policies in place," Jobe said. "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.”