Soybean growers and their close allies in the biodiesel industry in this country are blasting the U.S government’s decision to allow Argentinian biodiesel easier access to American markets. The American Soybean Association (ASA) and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) say the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ease sustainability requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to fast-track the South American fuel couldn’t come at a worse time.
“Today’s decision issued by EPA on Argentinian biodiesel shows a lack of coordination and alarming tone-deafness regarding the purposes of the Renewable Fuels Standard,” said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. “EPA has put the interests of our foreign competitors above those of soybean farmers here in the U.S. At this point, we can only scratch our heads and wonder what EPA’s priorities are when it comes to the domestic renewable fuels industry.”
“This decision poses a tremendous threat to U.S. industry and jobs, not to mention the overriding goal of the RFS of developing clean, homegrown renewable fuels,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs. “This is incredibly damaging, particularly in light of the continued delays in establishing RFS volumes. The Obama administration has effectively run the U.S. biodiesel industry into a ditch over the past year by failing to establish a functioning renewable fuels policy, and instead of pulling the domestic industry out, it is fast-tracking foreign competition.”
Under the RFS, feedstocks generally must be grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 18, 2007 – when the RFS was implemented. Typically, foreign producers must closely map and track each batch of feedstock used to produce imported renewable fuels. EPA’s decision allows Argentinian biodiesel producers to use a survey plan for certifying that feedstocks used, far less stringent than the current map and track requirement and more difficult to verify. NBB estimates that up to 600 million gallons of Argentinian biodiesel could enter the U.S. as a result of the change.
“President Obama should not be pleased with the job EPA is doing on renewable fuels. The agency’s manner of haphazard decision-making, which is so sorely lacking in direction, belies the Obama Administration’s support for the U.S. biofuels industry,” Cowan said. “Until the past year, the White House could rightly share the credit for the benefits that this industry has provided to the rural economy, energy security, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But these latest actions and inactions from EPA overshadow that progress and can only be seen as an embarrassment.”