US biodiesel industry aims to build on successes of 2016

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The closing session of the this week’s National Biodiesel Conference & Expo provided an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year while also taking a peek at how America’s Advanced Biofuel will fuel the country’s future in 2017 and beyond.

“There were a number of milestones reached in 2016 that will have a significant and very positive impact on the biodiesel industry,” said Don Scott, the Director of Sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board, which produced the four-day conference at the San Diego Convention Center. “And we were happy to provide a forum where some of the leaders in those initiatives could discuss how they accomplished their goals and what they see next on the horizon.”

Led by Don O’Connor, a Vancouver-based international expert on greenhouse-gas emissions, the assembled panel detailed efforts that spanned from municipal victories to boost biodiesel use to the Paris Climate Agreement that aims to significantly reduce global carbon emissions.

Simon Mui, Director of California’s Fuels, Energy and Transportation Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised the enactment of the state’s latest climate change law that expands on its landmark 2006 legislation which set the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. With that goal well on its way to being achieved, the new legislation signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September seeks to reduce emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“Biodiesel and renewable diesel are leading credit generators under the California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and their presence is expected to continue growing with the expansion of this landmark policy,” Scott said.

Oregon followed California’s lead in 2016 by enacting its own Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Jana Gastellum, Program Director of Climate at the Oregon Environmental Council, said the state seeks to reduce the average carbon intensity of Oregon’s transportation fuels by 10 percent over a 10-year period. And again, biodiesel will be playing a leading role in the state’s efforts.

Conference attendees also heard from Keith Kerman, Deputy Commissioner and chief fleet officer for New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Last year, the Big Apple continued to demonstrate its confidence in the carbon and smog mitigation benefits of biodiesel by enacting legislation that will incrementally increase the amount of biodiesel that displaces conventional petroleum heating oil. Kerman discussed how the city’s entire diesel fleet – the largest municipal fleet in the country – has converted to B20.

Scott said that while a primary goal of most of these policies is to reduce carbon emissions, it’s important to note biodiesel’s role in producing cleaner, healthier air and providing good-paying green jobs across the country.

“Between these types of local and state efforts, combined with a strong federal Renewable Fuel Standard, we’re on our way to creating 80,000 U.S. jobs that would pay $3.2 billion in wages and create $15 billion in economic activity,” Scott said. “And we’re making the air we breathe healthier along the way.”

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