FORT WORTH – Arguing that federal policy makers must see through the false attacks by renewable fuels opponents and provide certainty for their advanced biofuel industry, biodiesel advocates opened the doors to the public Tuesday at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Fort Worth.
Last year, the Obama Administration failed to finalize biodiesel volumes required under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). As a result, indecision surrounding the policy led numerous biodiesel plants to shutter operations, decrease production and lay off workers.
“President Obama has declared an all-of-the-above energy policy and made addressing climate change a priority,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “The RFS has demonstrated success in contributing to both those top priority goals. It is our goal for 2015 to get the RFS back on track.”
After the record year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013, the EPA initially proposed in November 2013 to hold the 2014 RFS biodiesel volume at 1.28 billion gallons. The agency subsequently withheld a final rule and has still not established 2014 volumes, even as it has signaled that it will improve the original proposal. The continued uncertainty throughout the year has left the industry in a state of limbo, although many biodiesel companies continued producing based on assurances from the Administration that RFS volumes would increase.
Delivering his remarks at the Fort Worth Convention Center, Jobe began his presentation by invoking the tenants of Joseph Pulitzer and the first rule of journalism: “the truth matters.”
While acknowledging the biodiesel industry has many friends and good working relationships among oil producers, RFS opponents have distorted the record of renewable fuels, as well as made alarming predictions for the program – predictions that have proven wildly inaccurate, Jobe said. As a result, he said, the implementation of effective policy has been consistently damaged by their misleading rhetoric.
In one example, Jobe pointed to a 2012 study by the American Petroleum Institute that predicted that biodiesel requirements under the RFS would result in a “Diesel Death Spiral” that would increase diesel fuel costs to about $15 per gallon in 2014 and $70 in 2015. Their predictions proved to be incorrect, yet they continue to site the flawed study.
“Obviously, it’s an understatement to say those predictions were vastly off the mark,” Jobe said. “Sensationalist tabloid headlines have no place in serious public policy debate – it makes for bad public policy,” Jobe said.
Now, Jobe said, some in the petroleum industry claim that America has achieved energy independence thanks to fracking of shale oil in Texas and North Dakota and from strip mining of Canadian Tar Sands. However, the fallout from the decision not to decrease production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has demonstrated once again the fallacy of that argument.
Jobe said that since OPEC’s Thanksgiving decision, an already glutted fuel market became flooded in oil from Saudi Arabia and other members of the international oil industry, driving prices so low they threaten to bankrupt the domestic fracking industry.
He said because of this, the RFS is a critical policy. Only by diversifying the transportation fuels market and providing competition to crude oil can the U.S. truly achieve energy security, he explained.