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California Biodiesel Alliance News

California's Biodiesel Industry Trade Association  

August 2014     

In This Issue
US EPA Sends Long-awaited Renewable Fuels Rule to White House
SAVE THE DATE: CBA's 4th Annual Conference: Feb 4th, 2015, Sacramento
Bill to Stop Grease Theft Passes with Overwhelming Support
New UC Davis Study Offers Surprising Insights on Biofuels
DOE Offers Up $11 Million For Bio-Acrylonitrile - What Is That Stuff, Anyways?
Bacon-Biodiesel Bike Makes Cross-Country Trip
UPCOMING EVENT: Bay Area Clean Cities Biodiesel Summit: Oct 7th, San Francisco



The US EPA has sent its recommendations for the 2014 RFS volumes to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review. While we have some reason to be optimistic, based on widely reported statements from senators who met with White House adviser John Podesta, we won't know what the numbers are until the rule is finalized, and that may not be until after the November election. The lead article below is a statement from the National Biodiesel Board, which has subsequently said that it will continue to make our industry's case for a strong RFS rule in meetings with the OMB during this period of review.    


We are happy to report that the California legislature has passed both AB 1566, a bill making it harder for grease thieves to continue taking their very costly toll on our industry, and AB 2756 to provide for a diesel tax refund to a supplier for that portion of biodiesel fuel removed from the terminal rack as a dyed biodiesel fuel. Both bills are on Governor Brown's desk.

There's plenty of weight in this issue, especially in the policy section, but on a light note we bring you news about a biodiesel entry into the August 29th International Bacon Film Festival in San Diego. And we are pleased to let you know that . . .


-- CBA's 2015 conference will be held on Feb 4th in Sacramento! --



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click on the "View CBA Email Newsletter Archive" button on our Home page.   



US EPA Sends Long-awaited Renewable Fuels Rule  
to White House



By The National Biodiesel Board | August 25, 2014


The National Biodiesel Board released the following statement from Vice President of Federal Affairs Anne Steckel after the EPA sent the proposed final rule for the 2014 renewable fuel standard (RFS) to the White House Office of Management and Budget for final review:


"We're pleased to see the process moving forward and hope the final rule will show that this administration is standing behind our national goals for clean, domestic fuels that strengthen our economy and national security. We also continue to urge the administration to finalize the rule as quickly as possible. The original EPA proposal and continued delays have severely disrupted the U.S. biodiesel industry this year. We can begin to reverse that damage with a meaningful increase in the biodiesel volume that is finalized as quickly as possible so that producers can ramp up production in a timely fashion."


Biodiesel is made from a wide variety of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. It is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet the EPA's definition as an advanced biofuel, meaning the EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel. Produced in nearly every state in the country, the industry has exceeded RFS requirements in every year of the program, reaching a record U.S. market of nearly 1.8 billion gallons and supporting more than 62,000 jobs nationwide.


In a draft RFS rule released in November, the EPA proposed holding biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons-a sharp drop from last year's actual production of nearly 1.8 billion gallons. Biodiesel producers around the country have warned that such a proposal will cause severe contraction in the industry. A nationwide survey of producers conducted by the NBB in April found that more than half have already idled a plant this year and 78 percent have reduced production from last year. Nearly two-thirds-66 percent-have already laid off employees or anticipate doing so.

CBA Conference Logo_no date
S A V E    T H E   D A T E
February 4th, 2015  

CBA's 4th annual California Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel conference will be held on February 4th, 2015 at the Capitol Plaza Ballroom located in the heart of downtown Sacramento.

Stay tuned  -- Registration opens soon!

Bill to Stop Grease Theft Passes with Overwhelming Support


Assemblymember Chris Holden's bill AB 1566, a measure to increase penalties for grease theft and give law enforcement new tools in this effort, passed the state legislature with overwhelming support this month. The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Brown.
California's rendering industry, which has championed this cause, is pleased and would like to thank Assemblyman Holden for a well-written bill and for his and his staff's support.


This legislation comes not a moment too soon for our industry, which suffers millions of dollars a year in losses due to stolen grease. In January, at CBA's 2014 Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel conference, a panel on grease theft began with two videos of grease thieves caught in the act by Imperial Western Products. David Isen, the company's Asset Protection Manager, said in his presentation that in a high market, losses from theft are as high as up to 40 to 50 percent.


"Restaurants are finding that their used kitchen grease is a hot commodity that has sparked grease wars in a battle over who can cash in on the 'liquid gold' that is then converted into biodiesel fuel," explained Assemblymember Holden in a press release on May 23rd of this year.  "This bill closes a loophole in enforcement code that will make it easier to stop the bad players." 


Here's what the bill will do, according to an analysis posted on the California legislative information website: "Specifically, to incentivize program compliance, fines are increased for IKG transporters for IKGP violations, law enforcement will be allowed to impound a transporting vehicle involved in IKG theft to ensure the vehicle is safely taken off the streets and the IKG is appropriately transported by a licensed transporter, and licensed transporters and renderers will be required to provide specific identification on their transport vehicles and maintain detailed records in order for law enforcement to better identify illegal IKG transporters."


New UC Davis Study Offers Surprising Insights on Biofuels

By University of California, Davis | July 31, 2014 


A scientific study recently released by the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis examines how an incremental approach to supplement advanced innovation in biofuels can help California and the nation meet clean fuel and lower emission standards. The study, "Three Routes Forward for Biofuels," helps chart a new path toward the sustainable use of biofuels as a low-carbon, renewable fuel source - with improvements today leading toward breakthroughs tomorrow. 


"Improvements are now quietly occurring at existing biofuel facilities that will make major future innovations more likely," said Lew Fulton, the study's lead researcher and co-director of the Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (NextSTEPS) program at ITS-Davis. "Our research shows that we should not ignore incremental changes while we're trying to find leapfrog solutions in California and the U.S.," said Fulton. 


The study identifies three routes for biofuels produced at biorefineries: (1) an "incremental" route in which small improvements are made at existing plants, (2) a "transitional" route in which cellulosic "bolt-on" production and other innovations leverage existing investments; and (3) a "leapfrog" route that focuses on major technological breakthroughs in cellulosic and algae-based pathways at new, stand-alone biorefineries. 


Together these routes suggest a new way to think about the future of biofuels in the U.S. and a strategy to help achieve California's Low Carbon Fuel Standards and national renewable fuel standards (RFS) targets. California's LCFS has encouraged a series of incremental changes on how biofuels are produced for the country's long-term renewable fuel goals, researchers noted. 


The study also looks at the emerging trade-off between investment risk today and future reduced carbon emissions. Incremental improvements occurring at biorefineries (such as process efficiency) could result in reductions in GHG emissions and in many cases have a payback period of less than two years for the fuel producer. The nation's small and medium-sized biorefineries are generally willing to take this risk. 


Given the large volumes of conventional biofuels in the U.S. (about 15 billion gallons in 2013), these incremental improvements at corn ethanol and biodiesel plants add up to significant overall carbon dioxide reductions. By 2030, the improvements will translate into annual reductions of 20-30 million metric tons in the rated GHG emissions of these biofuels. That is equivalent to removing 750,000 to 1.5 million passenger cars from America's roadways. 


Most of the activity now for GHG reductions and technological innovation is happening at existing corn ethanol biorefineries, which are creating efficiency and process improvements. More than 90 percent of U.S. biofuel currently comes from corn ethanol, but other biofuels will be part of the future mix.

Researchers found that moving toward a large-scale, sustainable biofuel future will require continued technology development and a favorable policy environment that encourages innovation and investments in large-scale, low-carbon leapfrog solutions.  


However, incremental and transitional routes should not be ignored and may play a critical role in future progress, according to the study. The study notes the policy landscape must evolve as leapfrog technologies (cellulosic or algae-based) scale-up and achieve commercialization. Leapfrog technologies have not gained much traction despite large amounts of support at the federal level. These technologies are not inherently environmentally sustainable and policies will be needed to ensure that they deliver on their promised environmental performance. 


"On the national level, it's important that revisions to the renewable fuel standard encourage investments that reduce GHG emissions at existing refineries. California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard already does this to some degree," said Fulton. "A comprehensive and well-executed federal policy can help build a bridge from today's biofuels to advanced, future biofuels that deliver on biofuels' environmental promise." 


DOE Offers Up $11 Million For Bio-Acrylonitrile -  

What Is That Stuff, Anyways?

July 31st, 2014 by Tina Casey
We haven't been paying much attention to acrylonitrile lately, or come to think of it ever at all, but when we heard that the Energy Department has just awarded $11 million in R&D grants to manufacture this colorless liquid petrochemical from biomass we figured it must be pretty important. 


Well, it is. If the US is going to kick a carbon-neutral economy into high gear, acrylonitrile is going to play a key role. Aside from some pesky toxicity issues, this petroleum-derived chemical is a feedstock for the kind of high performance, lightweight carbon fiber that goes into wind turbine blades, flywheels, and electric vehicles such as that BMW i3 we were just talking about.


Acrylonitrile To The Rescue!


The Energy Department's bio-acrylonitrile funding announcement was a little short on detail when it came to discussing just what kinds of biomass would be suitable as a cost-effective substitute for petroleum products, but we'll take a stab at it.


We're thinking that glycerol is on the list, mainly because glycerol (aka glycerine or glycerin) is on other peoples' bio-acrylonitrile list. 


That would make for a nifty green twofer. Crude glycerol is a major byproduct of biodiesel production, and as biodiesel production rises the world has been scrambling to come up with efficient ways to deal with the resulting global glycerol glut.


However, perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. For now, the Energy Department refers vaguely to "agricultural residues," "woody biomass," and other non-food feedstocks.

$11 Million For Bio-Acrylonitrile

It seems that we weren't the only ones sleeping on the acrylonitrile job. Back in 2004 the Energy Department analyzed the most promising high value petrochemicals for conversion to biomass production, and acrylonitrile didn't even crack the top 30 (ironically, petroleum-derived glycerol made it in there).


A number of things have changed since then, including the emergence of next-generation, non-food biomass crops and the increasing demand to replace steel with high grade carbon fiber in the auto and wind industries. 


The new DOE grant is being split between two institutions, and both have been tasked to produce bio-acrylonitrile for less than $1.00 per pound. 


The Southern Research Institute gets $5.9 million for continuing its work on a "multi-step catalytic process," and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory gets $5.3 million to explore a number of different bio-acrylonitrile production options.


Bio-Acrylonitrile = More Green Jobs  


The push for non-petroleum acrylonitrile also has a green jobs angle. The new grant falls under the Obama Administration's Clean Manufacturing Initiative (CMI), which is a strategic effort to nudge the US manufacturing sector in the direction of exporting technology.

Bacon-Biodiesel Bike Makes Cross-Country Trip

Posted on August 14, 2014 by John Davis


Bikes, biodiesel and bacon... what more could a guy (or gal) want? In what could be the tastiest source ever for biodiesel, a motorcycle fueled by bacon grease biodiesel has driven to the West Coast. This article from the Austin (MN) Daily Herald says hometown Hormel Foods Corp. is sponsoring a motorcycle that runs on biodiesel made of bacon grease for the Aug. 29 International Bacon Film Festival in San Diego, Calif. and is being filmed along the way for a movie called "Driven By Bacon" to be shown at the film festival.


Hormel representatives say the marketing push is an exciting opportunity to spread the word about Hormel's Black Label Bacon brand and will likely be used as a promotional tool in the future.


"It was a really exciting idea," said Nick Schweitzer, brand manager for meat production at Hormel.


Several people, including Charlie Smithson of CSE Engineering and Taylor Bamber, Smithson's work partner, will also be on the trip to troubleshoot problems with the motorcycle.


Smithson and Bamber custom designed the motorcycle based on a 2011 Track T-800CDI model.


Officials say the motorcycle could end up in Hormel's Spam Museum.



French fries Beautiful oil  French fries


No policy update this month. See CBA's Home page for the latest update.




In an August 22nd workshop on CARB's proposed CA-GREET 2.0 update for fuel pathways lifecycle evaluation, agency staff presented preliminary findings showing expected increases in carbon intensity (CI) scores for many LCFS fuel pathways including natural gas, sugar cane ethanol and biodiesel. The CI for petroleum diesel is also increasing, which adds to the CI of all fuels. However, CBA is concerned about CARB's proposed CI increases for biodiesel made from soybean oil, tallow, used cooking oil (UCO), canola, and corn oil ("wet DGS-associated"). 


At the workshop it was learned that CARB proposes that companies seeking CI scores for biodiesel where no cooking has taken place will be required to document that fact. Agency staff also said that because there are commercial markets for UCO and tallow, they will no longer be considered waste products, adding that the analysis involved in determining what displaces these feedstocks in the market when they go into fuel production is complicated and may not be completed in time for LCFS readoption.


Our industry is working to get additional information from CARB to complete our own analysis and will submit comments. CARB's August 22nd presentation is available here:  http://www.arb.ca.gov/fuels/lcfs/lcfs_meetings/lcfs_meetings.htm. 



CARB's LCFS report for the first quarter of 2014 shows that biodiesel generated 168,423 credits and renewable diesel generated 204,637 credits. More details are available at:




No policy update this month. See CBA's Home page for the latest update. 


No policy update this month. See CBA's Home page for the latest update.



See article above on AB 1566.


AB 69, a bill to delay the January 2015 date for transportation fuels to come under the state's Cap and Trade program, is in the Senate Rules Committee.    


AB 2756, to provide for a diesel tax refund to a supplier for that portion of biodiesel fuel removed from the terminal rack as a dyed biodiesel fuel, has passed and is now on Governor Brown's desk.   



Below are brief blurbs on some key federal policy issues. Contact the Washington office of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) at 202-737-8801 for further details.  

 According to the NBB, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R- Iowa, has filed an amendment in the Senate that would extend the biodiesel tax incentive for two years, retroactive for 2014 and forward through 2015. The underlying bill that Grassley is seeking to amend is a Democratic jobs bill (S-2569 "Bring Jobs Home Act") sponsored by Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.). While it appears that the bill will get caught up in partisan gridlock and is unlikely to pass, it is important that Sen. Grassley and other biodiesel supporters in the Senate are maintaining their efforts to extend the incentive. This keeps the issue in front of their colleagues and reminds them that it is important unfinished business. Looking ahead, campaign season is fully underway, and election-year politics are now clouding the legislative outlook in Congress.

The biodiesel tax incentive continues to enjoy bipartisan support and remains in a good position to be reinstated late in the year if Congress can come together and begin moving bipartisan legislation, likely after the November elections. However, it remains to be seen how the election outcome could affect any movement on tax extensions, or if Congress will pass any meaningful legislation.


See lead article above. 



(DOMESTIC FUEL): US Trade Rep Warned About Letting in Imported Biodiesel 


Posted on August 12, 2014 by John Davis 


The prospect of Argentine biodiesel replacing U.S. biodiesel... while American biodiesel producers take a hit on the government's requirement for the amount to be blended... is something not sitting well with the green fuel's advocates in this country. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman got an earful about the issue while on a trip to Iowa, where he visited on the family farm of Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board just outside Des Moines. 
During Ambassador Froman's tour of the farm where the Kimberleys raise corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres, Kimberley discussed a concerning application made to the Environmental Protection Agency. Submitted by the trade association representing Argentine biodiesel producers, the organization is asking EPA to approve an "Alternative Renewable Biomass Tracking Requirement." If approved, it would in effect replace the stringent feedstock recordkeeping requirements of the [Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)] regulations and allow Argentine biodiesel to qualify for the U.S.  biomass-based diesel program under a more streamlined review process.


"The unfortunate fact is that if EPA approves Argentina's application, we could be looking at 600 million gallons or more of Argentine biodiesel imported to the U.S., displacing our own domestic production," Kimberley said. "We know this because an Argentinean tax subsidy would allow each gallon of biodiesel from Argentina to enter the United States at prices lower than biodiesel produced in the U.S."

"Flooding the market with Argentine biodiesel in addition to this sharp cut would lead to a devastating loss of jobs currently supported by the domestic biodiesel market," Kimberley said.

"Until the proposed cuts, the RFS had been working as intended, but now we're in the unfathomable position of also replacing imported oil with imported biodiesel. It makes no sense." 
The current RFS proposal would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, about 600 million gallons... or the same amount threatened to come in from Argentina... less than what American biodiesel producers turned out last year.  


Kimberley said Ambassador Froman and his staff were aware of the issue and receptive to the Iowa Biodiesel Board's point of view.




Fueling Action is NBB's source for information, talking points, sample letters, and contact info for action on RFS and the Biodiesel Tax Incentive.  

NBB Fueling Action Logo





If you are reading this and are not yet a member, please join us. CBA offers membership levels with the following annual dues: $25 for students and veterans; $100 for individuals and nonprofit organizations; $500 (Bronze business level); and $2000 (Silver business level). Full voting board level memberships are available by application at $3000 (Gold) or $5000 (Platinum). Our Join Us webpage has details and an easy online membership fee payment process.

Membership benefits include:   

  • CBA's Email Newsletter with important industry updates and features about Who's Who in biodiesel in California and Action Alerts when your help can really make a difference.
  • Participation in internal email communications, policy discussions, and legislative and regulatory visits. 
  • Discount on CBA's annual California Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Conference.
  • Your company's logo and link on our Members webpage ($500 level and up).  
  • Special recognition at events and in publications (Platinum members).    

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Bay Area Clean Cities Biodiesel Summit


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10:00 AM to 2:30 PM

SF Main Library

Koret Auditorium and Conference Rooms A & B, lower level

100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA, 94102



Interested in using cleaner American-made fuels for your diesel fleet, but don't know where to start? Join the Bay Area Clean Cities Coalitions to learn everything you need to know about transitioning to biodiesel or renewable diesel, including fuel characteristics, performance attributes and emissions and sustainability profiles.


Hear from your peers on how area fleets have successfully adopted biodiesel, and learn biodiesel procurement strategies at this informative summit.


Also sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board and the California Biodiesel Alliance.


Thank you for your commitment to biodiesel and for your time and effort on behalf of our industry. I look forward to continuing to work with you.    


Celia DuBose

Executive Director

California Biodiesel Alliance