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EPA Asks If It Should Lower Biodiesel Mandate

The volume of imported biodiesel fuel, surging to 731 million gallons last year and continuing this year, is causing the EPA to think twice about where to set the Renewable Fuels Standard, created to move the U.S. toward energy security. 

Imports “may not have the same impact on energy independence” as domestic production, says the agency. Aided by public comment, it will consider whether to lower the target for biodiesel consumption.

The biodiesel mandate is 2 billion gallons this year and 2.1 billion gallons in 2018. For 2019, EPA proposed a 2.1 billion-gallon mandate. It intends to finalize the RFS in November. (The biodiesel mandate is set more than a year in advance, while ethanol is announced just before the start of the calendar year.)

In March, the biodiesel industry filed a trade complaint alleging that Indonesia and Argentina unfairly subsidized biodiesel producers and dumped the fuel in the U.S. 

The Commerce Department is expected to make a preliminary determination later this month of estimated subsidy rates and to announce in late October its findings on dumping. 

“The NBB Fair Trade Coalition will use every legal tool available to address these unfairly traded imports,” says Anne Steckel of the trade group National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

Biodiesel was the first advanced biofuel, a category that includes cellulosic ethanol, to achieve commercial-size production, so the NBB is concerned by EPA’s proposal to hold steady on the biodiesel and advanced biofuel mandates. 

“This is only a proposal, and in the past, EPA’s final numbers have been higher,” says Steckel. 

About 28% of U.S. soy oil is used in biodiesel. EPA says 4% of every gallon of diesel fuel comes from renewable sources.

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