WASHINGTON — Boosted by strong federal policy aimed at
diversifying the transportation fuels market, the U.S. biodiesel industry
reached a new production record for the first half of the year and is on pace
for its best year ever, according to new Environmental Protection Agency
Biodiesel refiners across the country have produced more
than 636 million gallons through the end of June, the EPA reported.
That puts the industry on pace to break the previous annual
biodiesel production record of just under 1.1 billion gallons and to
significantly exceed this year’s volume requirement under the Renewable Fuel
“This is further proof that policies like the RFS are
delivering,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the
National Biodiesel Board, the U.S. biodiesel trade association. “This growth
means good-paying jobs, fewer harmful emissions and a diversified fuel market
that is helping consumers.”
Recently, according to Steckel, “gas prices were the third
highest on record, even as we’re drilling more and more oil here at home. It
just shows that we need alternatives if we’re going to escape this cycle of
price spikes in the oil markets. The American people understand that we need to
diversify and adopt an all-of-the-above energy approach, and we need strong
domestic energy policy to do that.”
Biodiesel, made from a diverse mix of resources, including
soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, is the only EPA-designated
advanced biofuel with commercial-scale production nationwide and the first to
reach 1 billion gallons of annual production.
In 2011, production reached nearly 1.1 billion gallons. It
remained flat at that level in 2012 after Congress allowed the $1-per-gallon
biodiesel tax incentive to expire.
But this year, after Congress restored the tax incentive and
the EPA finalized a volume increase under the RFS, the industry is poised to
shatter previous records.
“We’ve been steadily increasing volume and are planning to
run at maximum capacity for the rest of the year,” said Karl Radune, president
of BioDiesel One Ltd., a small producer in Southington, Conn., that makes
biodiesel from recycled cooking oil.
“It’s allowed us to build inventories, reach out to new
customers and recapture some of the customers we lost when the tax incentive
lapsed last year.”
Radune said he also is hoping to boost staffing, but remains
concerned that Congress might allow the tax incentive to expire again at the end
of the year, as it did in 2010 and 2012.
“The uncertainty around the tax incentive makes it very
difficult to plan for growth,” he said.