Biodiesel Saw Record Production in the U.S. in 2011

According to fresh data released by the Environmental Protection Agency, a record 1.1 billion gallons were produced in 2011, a milestone for the biodiesel industry in the U.S. The target required by the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was 800 million gallons.

The National Biodiesel Board said the industry’s success is the result of an incentive policy. The $1-per-gallon tax credit reinstated by Congress in December 2010 gave the industry a boost. Without the credit, production dropped dramatically in 2010.

The industry now is urging Congress to continue with the incentive that expired on Dec. 31, 2011. It wants to see an increase to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013 under the RFS.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of stories about setbacks in the renewable energy sector recently, and I think our success in 2011 reflects the bigger picture reality, which is that strong energy policy is working to stimulate production of clean, American-made energy,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

Biodiesel is a commercial-scale fuel used across the U.S. to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition as an Advanced Biofuel. It is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines and meets ASTM’s fuel specification. It can be made from various resources such as agricultural oils and recycled cooking oil, and can be produced in nearly every state in the country.

A recent economic study commissioned by NBB found that biodiesel production of 1 billion gallons supports 39,027 jobs across the country and more than $2.1 billion in household income. It said an additional 11,698 jobs could be added between 2012 and 2013 alone under continued growth in the RFS and with an extension of the biodiesel tax incentive.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

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