Production Increases, Upgrades Coming

2014 and 2015 were tough years for biodiesel.  The lack of an established tax credit and delayed policy implementation for the EPA RFS program created uncertainty in the biodiesel  market, and many smaller plants suffered for it.   Even for 2016 the tax credit took over a month and a half to be established where plants could send in the forms to claim credits.   That old saying about the 9 most terrifying words:  “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”, sure seems to fit.

InProcess Biodiesel after reacting and settling.

In-Process Biodiesel After Reacting and Settling.

But things are picking up, and demand for biodiesel is increasing for the second quarter of this year.   We have several upgrades underway to improve our production efficiency and throughput.  We will be making some improvements to our boiler, adding another resin column, installing additional heat exchangers to scavenge heat and improve process temperatures, and improving our wash process to reduce the bottleneck we have there.  We should have these improvements completed in the next few weeks, expecting an almost instant realization of efficiency savings and improved production capacity (assuming Murphy doesn’t step in and rear his ugly head).

On the longer term, we are revisiting our original master site plan for consideration of a major expansion at the facility.  We have been looking at two different production paths for this upgrade, using the enzymatic biodiesel production process, or supercritical.  They both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both will be expensive to convert the plant to.  We are still in the evaluation stages but intend to move forward with one of them in the future, hopefully realizing an increase in our nameplate capacity while also reducing our cost per gallon production costs.

The fuel industry is on its heels right now, and while most are probably thinking of getting out of the business, it feels more like it’s time to double down while things are cheap.   It wouldn’t take much for the oil industry to spike above $50/barrel again, or even $100.  A war in the middle east, Iran and Russia, or our own US production going bankrupt because of the recent oil glut.  There is no quick fix for oil, we don’t have any readily available replacement for it so it’s going to be with us for a while, always in demand; and biodiesel will be right there beside it.



M35A2 2½-Ton Truck for Sale – $6500.00

We are selling out 1970 AMG M35A2  2½-ton truck.   This is a also known as a “Deuce and a Half”.
M35A2 on Biodiesel
The engine is a multi-fuel inline 6-cylinder motor with turbocharger (D series, or “whistler”) that will run on biodiesel, diesel, gasoline, motor oil, kerosene, or transmission fluid.   Of course we have run it on biodiesel for a while, currently it is running B20 biodiesel.

The truck operates as a 6X6, with an air shifted front axle (just flip a switch to engage front wheel drive). It has been newly re-upholstered.  New batteries installed.   Air windshield wipers work. Black out lights installed. Two speed transfer case. No rust. This vehicle has a clean North Carolina title and is street legal. You do not need a CDL to drive it. Drive this thing anywhere, we were never able to get it stuck in even the thickest mud.

Price is $6,500.00 (negotiable), and includes a tank of B20 biodiesel fuel.   Buyer must arrange any shipping and pay all shipping costs. Vehicle is in excellent working condition but is sold AS-IS.  Get this truck and have fun with it!

You can view a video of this great running truck here.

Biodiesel Tax Credit Passed!

The Biodiesel Tax Credit passed and was signed into law on December 18th. 

The bill was for retroactive production of 2015, and forward production of 2016 will be eligible for a $1.00 per gallon subsidy for each gallon of biodiesel produced and sold.  The credit was originally designed to be a producer’s credit for 2016, but was modified to remain as a blender’s credit.   This initially spelled a problem, but at the same time the oil export ban was lifted, meaning that a significant portion of exported diesel fuel may now contain biodiesel.  That could mean an expanding market for US biodiesel.

Coupled with the recent EPA RFS mandates volumes being finalized for previous and upcoming years, this should mean a good year in 2016 for the biodiesel industry.    If the politics further sway towards Republicans in the 2016 election, it would ironically point to better times for the renewable fuel industry.

The biodiesel industry has suffered not from lowering oil prices or increased feedstock  prices.  Well… okay, it has, but not nearly as much as it has suffered at the hands of an indecisive Legislative body that will not consistently pass a biodiesel tax credit subsidy, AND from an ever more indecisive Executive branch that will not implement and enforce RFS policy that has already been established.   Both of these issues are resolved for 2016 finally, so perhaps we can get on with the process of making biodiesel now (and making money).


EPA RFS Volumes Finalized

Today, the EPA released final RFS volumes for the periods 2014 – 2017.   A welcomed relief, these volumes are higher than earlier proposed volumes for biodiesel and should be good for spurring on biodiesel demand.  The D4 Biomass-based Diesel volumes are as follows:

2014 – 1.63 billion gallons
2015 – 1.73 billion gallons
2016 – 1.90 billion gallons
2017 – 2.00 billion gallons

Also included are the D5 Advanced Biofuel volumes which also increased:

2014 – 2.67 billion gallons
2015 – 2.88 billion gallons
2016 – 3.61 billion gallons

EPA Website Information:



Status of the Biodiesel Tax Credit – 2015

Biodiesel Turnaround?

2014 and 2015 have been difficult years for the biodiesel industry.   Indeed, many of the producers that are comparable or smaller in size to TBI have experienced significantly reduced production, idling, or even closure.   Many biodiesel plants have been forced to just collect WVO and sell it into the feed industry, thus not really acting like a biodiesel refinery as much as they are waste vegetable oil aggregators.  Of particular concern is the lack of consistency in the regulatory standards and subsidies that have been in play for 2014 and 2015.  That appears to all be changing soon however.   Calls into congressional offices and information from the NBB leads us to several conclusions (or assumptions, depending upon who you ask):

What’s in play:

  1. The EPA will finalize volume requirements for 2014 and 2015 and resolve a pending waiver petition for 2014, and also finalize RFS volume requirements for 2016 .   This has already yielded a slight increase in RIN pricing for 2015 and a premium for 2016 RINs (2016 Biodiesel RIN futures might be a good thing to buy right now, if you can get them).
  2. The Biodiesel tax credit is expected to be voted on under the Tax Extenders package as a part of the Omnibus bill.  This is expected to be put on the floor of both the Senate (S 1946) and the House (H.R. 4040, et. al.).

Biodiesel Tax Credit

As this is the most important to biodiesel producers, we’ll start here.   These bills are expected to go to the floor sometime after Thanksgiving, most likely in the December short session.  This gives roughly 12 working days on the Congressional calendar for Congress to pass the bill in both the House and Senate.  The good news is that they have passed through the committee, and are ready to go to the floor.

Assuming we don’t have more important pressing bills that need debate (such as blocking Syrian refugee aid or not), it appears we might have the tax credit passed as part of the Omnibus package by the end of the year.   This currently is set as a “back one, forward one” credit for retroactive sales in 2015 and forward for 2016.  Further, the 2016 year would be a producer’s credit, limiting the credit to be only available to active biodiesel producers.  Needless to say the petrochemical industry does not like this, as they no longer get to put their hand in our cookie jar, but I predict Congress in it’s usual ineptitude will leave enough loop holes in the legislation to allow for Big Oil to get it’s fair share of our revenue stream.   For now at least, 2 years looks to be about the most we can get for the biodiesel tax credit.  This is far below the needed 3 to 5 years for a reliable tax credit program to bring stability to the biodiesel industry.  But when I’ve asked specifically what was impeding a multi-year tax credit more than  2 years, I was informed that the primary concern was the Obama administration’s repeated claims that they would veto any multi-year tax credits which would impede funding their programs.   So the most likely and high probability beneficial outcome for our industry is to be conservative about the timeframe and stuff it into a large, encompassing package such as Omnibus to ensure that there’s enough pork for everyone to get passed.   And there you have it, Beltway gridlock at it’s finest.


The EPA Renewable Fuel Standard drama seems to be coming to a businesslike conclusion, with some reasonable expectations for production in the biodiesel spectrum (I won’t address the blend wall issue craziness for ethanol.  Not my circus, not my monkeys).  The incremental increases while not substantial relative to the domestic production capability, at least ARE increases and can be met by the industry and consumed by the obligated parties without much suffering and stress.

Similar to the biodiesel tax credit loophole, particular interest needs to be pointed at the EPA program allowing imported biodiesel to be permitted to generate renewable fuel credits and cashing them in at the expense of the taxpayer.  That creates an uneven playing field for domestic producers, and effectively functions as a subsidy to foreign countries at the taxpayer’s expense.  The regulatory logic is that it benefits the consumer by providing a renewable carbon neutral fuel supply to help offset diesel emissions, but the net effect is that it strangles domestic producers who not only have higher input costs to consider, but also a larger regulatory burden by the same entities that are enabling the foreign competition in the first place.

The Short Version

If you’re still reading and haven’t fallen asleep, or just skipped to this section to find out what all the above ranting really means, it means the biodiesel industry appears to be coming into a turnaround phase rather soon.   With higher than expected soybean oil surpluses in 2015, expected increases in demand from the RFS program finalizing incremental increases, and the biodiesel tax credit looming, biodiesel should expect a boom for at least 2016, and probably beyond.


Source: FDD and OPIS.

Source: FDD and OPIS.


Obama Administration – Biodiesel Friend or Foe?

Reuters: Pelosi to Obama: boost U.S. biofuels program ahead of Paris talks

NEW YORK | By Chris Prentice

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and three other lawmakers are pressing President Barack Obama not to back-peddle on the country’s biofuels program just days ahead of global climate change talks in Paris.

The Democratic Representatives – Pelosi from California, Steny Hoyer from Maryland, Collin Peterson from Minnesota, and David Loebsack from Iowa – asked the administration to rethink a proposal for the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard and to keep the program “robust” in a letter dated Nov. 18.

The push comes just over a week ahead of a Nov. 30 deadline for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize mandates for renewable fuels use through 2016. That date coincides with the start of the Paris discussions.

The EPA in May proposed requirements for the amount of biofuels blended into the country’s transportation fuel stream that were below requirements set by Congress in 2007.

“We hope you will keep in mind the need to reduce carbon pollution, and not expand it in the transportation sector in the days leading up to the President’s historic efforts” in Paris, they said in a letter to Brian Deese, an assistant to the president and senior adviser.

EPA reduced the mandates around the principle of the “blend wall,” which oil groups say is the saturation point for ethanol use in the fuel stream without greater infrastructure change.

The plan drew ire from both biofuels groups and oil companies alike, and both groups have been ratcheting up their lobbying and advertising spending ahead of the EPA’s deadline to finalize the rule.

The lawmakers, who met with Deese on Oct. 29, also emphasized the importance of correcting errors in the mandates related to “more accurately reflect” gasoline demand projections and biofuels exports.

Politico: Biofuels Group Touts GHG Analysis

Just days before EPA is slated to release its latest Renewable Fuel Standard mandate, the Renewable Fuels Association is touting an analysis concluding that the program has saved over 354 million metric tons of carbon dioxide so far. It’s the latest salvo in the environmental war in which the RFS’s critics argue that corn ethanol, which makes up the bulk of RFS biofuel requirements, has little climate benefit over petroleum fuels. The report, from the consulting firm Life Cycle Associates, said the reductions were higher than expected despite the slow growth of cellulosic because corn ethanol technology improved and EPA underestimated baseline petroleum emissions.

Center for Regulatory Solutions begs to differ

The anti-RFS non-profit will release a report looking at the greenhouse gas impact of the RFS on Illinois today, the fifth in a series by the nonprofit. The report says corn ethanol production and consumption added 4.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Illinois between 2005 to 2014.


Senate to Propose Biodiesel Tax Incentive

From the NBB:

We’re happy to report that the Senate Finance Committee today unveiled a bipartisan “tax extenders” package that includes the biodiesel tax incentive. The committee is slated to take up the package next week.

This marks welcome progress for one of NBB’s top priorities and is an important step toward winning reinstatement of the tax incentive. The proposal, released by committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., calls for a two-year reinstatement covering 2015 and 2016. The committee has scheduled a markup for the bill, which contains 52 tax incentives and is titled, “An Original Bill to Extend Certain Expired Tax Provisions”, on Tuesday, July 21.

The committee has been working on the bill in a bipartisan fashion on the bill for weeks, so we anticipate that it will have broad support in committee. However, we urge those of you with senators on the committee to contact them today and urge them to support the biodiesel incentive. Makes sure they know it is an important economic policy for their home state. To find a list of senators on the committee, click here on the committee’s website.

More information on the bill can be found here. A copy of the initial Chairman’s Mark of the bill can be found here. A revenue table for the tax extenders bill can be found here. A summary of the package can be found here.

As you know, this is the beginning of what has been a long process in past years. However, the Senate bill is a significant step forward, and it will serve as the first draft as House and Senate leaders continue negotiating how to proceed with expired tax incentives. It was critical that biodiesel was included in this proposal.

We will send another update next week after the committee markup. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Washington office at 202-737-8801.



Enzymatic Biodiesel

We have been benchtop testing with enzymatic biodiesel, evaluating it’s performance with different feedstocks and mixture ratios to see what works best.  So far, I’m impressed with the results and it appears to be far easier to use than I originally understood.

We have begun investigating what the upfit costs would be to scale up for production, but the ROI looks promising.   Not only would we be able to use a wider range of feedstocks, but the pre-treatment time is cut dramatically, input chemicals are cut dramatically, and our production yields look like they might double.  All very promising.

I’ve been down this road before, skipping down what looks to be a yellow brick road and then have a bunch of flying monkeys swoop down and steal my favorite dog.   So, we proceed cautiously, but overall we are excited about the prospect of using a new technology that could potentially increase yields and profit.


EPA Releases RFS Volumes for Biodiesel (finally)

Biodiesel back on track for increased demand in upcoming years.  This is good news, and long overdue…

From the NBB:

The EPA today released its long-awaited proposal to establish volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). While the proposal is not perfect, we are pleased to report that it calls for steady growth in Biomass-based Diesel through 2017 and is a dramatic improvement from the EPA’s initial draft in November 2013. In fact, while the initial proposal would have held biodiesel flat at the 2013 standard of 1.28 billion gallons through 2015, today’s proposal calls for an increase of more than 600 million gallons between 2013 and 2017.

While we will continue pressing for stronger growth during the coming weeks, this represents a significant turnaround that should pave the way for healthy biodiesel markets in the coming years and also sets a precedent for further RFS growth in the future. The proposal, which is subject to public comment and change until finalized later this year, would establish the following volumes for Biomass-based Diesel:

2014 – 1.63 BG
2015 – 1.7 BG
2016 – 1.8 BG
2017 – 1.9 BG

Additionally, it includes the following growth for the overall Advanced Biofuel category, which offers further opportunity for biodiesel growth above and beyond the Biomass-based Diesel standards:

2014 – 2.68 BG
2015 – 2.9 BG
2016 – 3.4 BG

The EPA says it will finalize the proposal by Nov. 30.

We know the delays and uncertainty surrounding this RFS rule over the past two years have been incredibly damaging to our industry and have created significant hardships at your businesses. But the improvements in this proposal are a testament to the impact that we as an organized and unified industry can have in Washington. Thank you to all who participated in our advocacy efforts. This wouldn’t have happened without your help, and we will be calling on you to engage even more in the coming weeks.



Best Regards,

Joe Jobe
National Biodiesel Board



Corn prices have dropped, but has your food costs? Ask Chuck Grassley

2015-05-20 02:24:11 EDT via OPIS
***Sen. Grassley Rails against RFS Repeal Opinion Piece

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) took to the Senate floor earlier today to rail
against a Wall Street Journal opinion piece written last week by the National
Chicken Council and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, calling on
Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

In the opinion piece last week, the two groups described the RFS as a provision
“that stymies small businesses, hurts the environment and increases food
prices.” OPIS reported on the opinion piece on May 15.

“Once again, chain restaurants and chicken producers are teaming up to smear
homegrown biofuels producers at the expense of energy independence and cleaner
air,” Grassley said on the Senate floor, noting that “every couple of years,
food producers or grocery manufacturers team up with big oil to try to undermine
the extremely successful Renewable Fuel Standard.”

“I’m going to take this opportunity to do a simple fact check of some of the
most egregious claims. First, they claim that since 2005, when the RFS was first
adopted, costs of vital food commodities, including corn, grains and oilseeds,
poultry, meat, eggs and dairy have risen dramatically. This is pure myth,”
Grassley said. “The fact is consumer food prices have increased by an annual
average of 2.68% since 2005. In contrast, food prices increased by an average of
3.47% in the 25 years leading up to passage of the RFS,” he noted.

“Second, they claim that as a result of the RFS, corn is being ‘diverted’ from
livestock feed to ethanol. Again, this claim is false,” Grassley continued.
“Corn used for ethanol has come from the significant increases in corn
production since 2005….And one-third of the corn used for ethanol production is
returned to the market as animal feed. The amount of corn and corn co-products
available for feed use is larger today than any time in history. So, it’s hardly
being diverted,” he said.

“Finally, they claim the increases in feed costs have affected the American
production of beef, pork and chicken. They state that production had increased
consistently over the past 30 years, but has now leveled off due to the higher
cost of feed. Again, this is nowhere near reality,” Grassley said. The reality
is USDA is projecting red meat and poultry production of 95.2 billion pounds
this year, up 10% from 2005. … Just a few years ago, when corn prices had
peaked at more than $7.50 a bushel, grocers, food producers and restaurants were
claiming that food inflation would approach 10% because of the RFS. They warned
that they’d be forced to pass those higher costs on to consumers immediately,”
he said.

“Well, with corn at $3.50 a bushel today, have consumers seen a dramatic
reduction in retail food prices? … Corn prices have come down by more than
half in the past two-and-a-half years, so why are food producers holding prices
steady or increasing them?” Grassley asked.

“The fact is domestic renewable fuel producers are feeding and fueling the
world. … The [RFS] policy is working. I intend to defend all attacks against
this successful program whether they come from big oil, the EPA, big food or
others,” Grassley added.

Neither food group responded to Grassley’s remarks by presstime.