Ben Wootton, owner of the Pennsylvania biodiesel plant Keystone Biofuels, lost his business last year to bankruptcy. He says Renewable Fuel Standard uncertainty was a key reason for its closure.
"I would invite Administrator McCarthy to come to my shuttered plant and talk to some of the laid off workers, or to visit practically any biodiesel plant across the country to see the damage that is taking place," Wootton said Friday.
He was referencing comments the National Biodiesel Board said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy made regarding the RFS last year: "While I would have preferred to have this rule done earlier, it hasn't slowed down that industry that I can see."
Renewable Fuel Standard volumes have been in limbo for the past two years as EPA has not established final volumes for 2014 or 2015, and has not released proposed volumes for 2016.
Wootton, who is an NBB Governing Board member, said the EPA's handling of RFS volumes has shuttered plants, limited jobs and provided no certainty for biofuels producers that the market will continue to be available. Wootton said the loss of his plant forced the layoff of 30 employees.
The U.S. biodiesel market dropped from a high of 1.8 billion gallons in 2013 to 1.75 billion gallons in 2014, NBB said.
"It is beyond frustrating that an Administration I have strongly supported has inflicted so much harm on an industry it says it supports," he said.
Wootton was part of an NBB press call Friday to discuss both the RFS and this week's decision from the EPA that allows Argentinian biodiesel to enter the U.S.
The new EPA policy is a departure from previous rules that required feedstocks used under the RFS to be grown on land that was cleared or cultivated prior to Dec. 18, 2007, and be tracked and mapped.
The change allows foreign producers instead to pay an independent third party to survey their feedstock supplies, NBB said.
NBB protested the EPA's move on the grounds that the agency did not provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the changes.
"It is shocking that at a time when our renewable fuels policy is in a shambles, the EPA has essentially greenlighted biodiesel imports from Argentina to qualify for the RFS, with very little oversight or verification that the resources used to make the fuel will be grown under the normal RFS sustainability requirements," NBB CEO Joe Jobe said.
The mapping and tracking requirements – and date requirement – were put in place to avoid deforestation for biomass production, NBB said.
"We have done everything we can for two years to help this Administration develop reasonable policy that matches President Obama's stated support for renewable fuels, but we are at wit's end. We are desperately searching for any indication that this support actually exists."