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Top Ten Quotes from 2015 Conference

NBB StaffHere is the staff of the National Biodiesel Board. It was a rare moment to have them all together for a photo since they all have so many different duties during the annual conference. So as the conference came to a close here are this year’s top 10 overheard quotes:

10. “I’ve never heard of a farmer planting a roadside bomb by his field to defend his crops.” – David May, of the Iowa Department of Transportation, who spoke in a session where military veterans discussed personal connections between energy security and national security. May is a Biodiesel Ambassador.

9. “Folks in the heating oil industry are pushing hard and fast for Bioheat® fuel. You are changing that world.” – Tom Butcher, Brookhaven National Laboratory, has played an instrumental role in research leading to expected official performance specifications that approve 6-to-20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil. He made the comment as he accepted the NBB Innovation award.

8. “The rest of the world is looking to the people at this conference to lead future generations towards renewable energy.” – Brian Hendrix, pursuing a master’s degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was one of 30 Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel attending the event. He and other students received a travel scholarship through NBB.

7. “Soy is grown for protein.” – Beth Calabotta, a leading plant and biodiesel scientist, drove the point home during a myth busting session – busting the myth that soy is grown for biodiesel, when in reality the oil used to make biodiesel is a byproduct of protein.
6. “We have great people, and great innovation. Our charge is to go forward, and succeed, because we won’t give up.” – Steven J. Levy, NBB chairman, in his Day 2 opening address.

5. “As both a former governor and a Naval officer I can tell you energy security remains among biofuels’ most important benefits.” – Matt Blunt, former governor of Missouri, during his Day 2 keynote speech.

4. “This program is the last cog in biodiesel quality from well-to-wheel.” – Scott Fenwick, NBB technical director, announcing the new Retailer addition to the BQ-9000 fuel quality program that will encourage retail stations to become accredited under the program.

3. “Washington’s inability to live up to the Renewable Fuel Standard suggests to me that there is not a minimum threshold there for embarrassment.” – Sen. Byron Dorgan (Ret.), on a federal policy panel, pulled no punches on Washington for leaving the biodiesel industry hanging in a perpetual state of limbo.

2. “2015 has to be the year we get back to the future of the RFS program and out of the uncertainty the past.” – NBB CEO Joe Jobe, who received a standing ovation during his opening address. He said federal policy makers must see through the false attacks by renewable fuels opponents and provide certainty for this advanced biofuel industry.

1. “If you’re in this room today, you’re a survivor.” – Gene Gebolys, CEO of leading biofuels provider World Energy, addressing attendees during a plenary panel of CEOs. He’s been involved in the biodiesel business since the 1990s, experiencing firsthand the merry-go-round of the industry.

A common point of discussion was the industry’s 1.75 billion gallon production in 2014, down slightly from the previous year. Organizers said conference attendance reflected the industry’s challenging times. Yet industry and policy experts also expressed optimism that this year, America’s Advanced Biofuel will regain stability and get back to growth.

2015 is a year that holds a lot of hope for the industry. You could see and hear that throughout the conference and I’m glad to once again have the opportunity to be your Biodiesel Blogger!

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Ride & Drive

Biodiesel Ride and DriveIt was ride and drive time as new diesel vehicles were on display at this year’s conference.

National Biodiesel Conference attendees put some of the latest diesel vehicle models to the test on Wednesday January 21st during the 2015 Biodiesel Ride-and-Drive Event outside the Fort Worth Convention Center. The event featured a sampling of some of the many new biodiesel-capable models available in 2015, including the popular Chevy Cruze diesel sedan, a 2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI, a 2015 Ford F250 SuperDuty pickup, a 2015 Ford Transit van, and the 2015 Hino 195h DC – a medium duty double cab diesel electric hybrid truck.

Representatives from these companies were on hand to answer questions too.

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Support National Biodiesel Foundation

National Biodiesel Foundation AuctionJust like every year at the conference attendees had lots of opportunities to support the National Biodiesel Foundation. One of those ways is an auction with some very unique items to bid on. The auction is mostly open during the trade show and had a lot of traffic this year.

The Foundation works closely with the National Biodiesel Board to address national issues affecting us all — cleaner air, greater economic development for rural communities, and enhanced national security through energy independence. Organized in 1994, our mission is to accomplish outreach, education, research and demonstration activities for the advancement of biodiesel.

If you couldn’t attend the conference you can still support the National Biodiesel Foundation. Just go online to make a donation.

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Making Green Even Greener

Next Gen Scientists for BiodieselThe group of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel can get a little crazy at times. Like in this photo right after their conference luncheon. During their luncheon they heard from a number of professionals in the industry sharing words of wisdom. They were ready to get outside and pose for the camera!

One of those student scientists is Amber White who attends Loyola University. I spoke with her about some of the work she’s doing in the lab related to biodiesel. Right now that focus is on a sustainable treatment system for wash water which is a by-product of the biodiesel production process. Basically, making something green even greener! Amber says funding for her project has come through a large EPA grant to Loyola. Additionally, she was awarded a Fellowship from the EPA this last fall which includes two years of project funding. Way to go Amber.

Listen to my interview with Amber here: Interview with Amber White

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel

Student Co-ChairsThe Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program continues to grow and there were 30 student scientists represented at this year’s conference. Here are the Co-Chairs of the program James Anderson, Southern Illinois University, a PhD student in Agricultural Science; Katie Heil, University of Colorado – Boulder, an undergraduate in Electrical Engineering; Mike Morgan, Utah State University, an undergraduate in Biochemistry and Dan Browne, a graduate research assistant in the Dept. of Biochemistry & Biophysics at Texas A&M University.

I asked them to each describe the type of work they’re doing related to biodiesel and then tell me what coming to the conference has meant to them.

Listen to this interview with the student co-chairs here: Next Generation Scientists

The scholarships were supported by the National Biodiesel Board through United Soybean Board funding and the South Carolina Soybean Board. The National Biodiesel Foundation also supported one scholarship through the Dallas Hanks Memorial Fund, in memory of the prominent feedstock researcher from Utah State University.

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Leadership Discussion

NBC LeadershipDuring this year’s conference featured a discussion with industry CEOs led by Joe Jobe. On the panel were Dan Oh, REG; Gene Gebolys, World Energy and Paul Soanes, Renewable Biofuels.

The conference has become very focused on the business of the industry and as you wander around the convention center you’ll see small groups of people having serious business discussions. This is one of the big benefits of attending and this panel was put together to allow everyone a chance to hear some insights from the top level executives at some of the companies that have survived and thrived even with a lot of the uncertainty that has plagued the industry.

Listen to the session here: Leadership Discussion

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Eye on Biodiesel Award – Inspiration

nbc-15-andersonThere are many in the biodiesel industry who serve as inspirations, but maybe none as much as Greg Anderson with the Nebraska Soybean Board. The soybean farmer has been a long-time biodiesel advocate and has shown his full-time devotion to his fellow soybean farmers and the biodiesel industry in so many ways. Even after suffering a near-fatal accident involving a propane tank explosion on the family farm back in Nebraska this past August, he remained positive, grateful, and upbeat during his recovery from the painful injuries. And he reminded the group gathered for the Eye on Biodiesel Awards, of which he is the Inspiration winner, of just how safe biodiesel is.

“Biodiesel is the safest of all fuels to handle, transport and store. I’ll be towing biodiesel from now on,” he said with an inspirational smile and applause from the crowd.

Greg said while his recovery was painful, he was helped by all the support of so many people. He found himself thankful for not only his life but a full recovery. He likens his recovery to the recovery the biodiesel industry is having to face now. He also reminded the group not to forget what’s important in life.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what we accomplished or the material possessions that we have. But it’s truly about making others better, inspiring others, really giving back. And I’ve been blessed so much by you all.”

Listen to Greg’s inspiring remarks here: Greg Anderson

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Eye on Biodiesel Award – Innovation

nbc-15-butcherIt’s many of the innovations that have helped grow biodiesel from what could be considered just a cottage industry not that long ago to the major fuel it is today. During the conference, Tom Butcher from Brookhaven National Laboratory was recognized for his contributions to the industry. He told the group that as a researcher, he has worked on a lot of different energy technologies and was impressed with biodiesel’s impact.

“The impact that it’s had on the Northeast, the impact on the heating oil industry across the country. This is an industry that because of biodiesel has been rejuvenated,” he said.

Tom played an instrumental role in the technical research that has been done over the last six years that formed the basis for the balloting of performance specifications for 6 percent to 20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil as a new fuel grade in the ASTM D396 fuel oil standard. His groundbreaking work documenting the positive field experience with biodiesel blends and providing the research background were major factors in addressing questions brought up by the NORA/NBB-lead Bioheat Technical Steering Committee.

He concluded saying he was lucky to be part of this group and is looking forward to the innovations of the future.

Listen to Tom’s remarks here: Tom Butcher

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Eye on Biodiesel Award – Influence

nbc-15-schoenfeldAnother one of the Eye on Biodiesel Awards from this year’s conference recognizes a man who has been a great influence on the industry in his home state of Minnesota and across the country. Jerry Schoenfeld of Minneapolis-based Greater States Advisors was instrumental in the development, passage, and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota ever since soybean growers came to him in 2000.

He admits he didn’t know much about biodiesel back then, as there was just 2 million gallons produced nationwide each year – a dramatic difference from today’s 1.8 BILLION gallons annually. Jerry said he had to work with a state legislature that was split between Republicans and Democrats and an Independent governor. The nation’s first 2 percent biodiesel standard for all diesel was finally made into law and served as a blueprint for other states’ mandates.

“In many ways, that measure worked, along with many others in your respective states,” Jerry told the group. He added that working with the split legislature and governor’s office taught him important lessons in legislative matters. “If you work hard and you keep at it, you will succeed. And secondly, you can’t always assume who your friends and who your enemies are, because on any given day, different politicians will be both!”

Listen to Jerry’s remarks here: Jerry Schoenfeld

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Eye on Biodiesel Award – Sen. Al Franken

nbc-15-frankenMore recognition from the conference’s the 2015 “Eye on Biodiesel” awards. Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota was honored with the Impact award for his work as a long-time champion for biodiesel in Washington, taking a particular leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes.

Sen. Franken has helped organize his Senate colleagues in holding meetings on the issue with senior Administration leaders. He has coordinated advocacy letters from members of Congress. And he has spoken out publicly to highlight biodiesel’s benefits in Minnesota and across the country as he fought for a strong RFS. Additionally, Sen. Franken has been a consistent and vocal advocate for the biodiesel tax incentive. His advocacy and leadership have been instrumental in helping to develop a policy environment in which biodiesel can continue to grow.

In recorded remarks played for the crowd gathered at the conference, Franken thanked the group for the honor and reiterated his opposition to the Obama Administration’s proposal to cut biodiesel requirement under the RFS to 1.3 billion gallons annually.

“Our annual biodiesel production meets and even exceeds the expectations set in the [RFS]. Last year, you produced 1.8 billion gallons – each one of those gallons is helping improve our energy security and creating good jobs here at home,” said Franken, pointing out that he’s talked with anyone who would listen in the administration, including President Obama, telling them all how opposed he was to the proposal. “We need a strong RFS, not a weak one.”

Franken vows to keep fighting for the biodiesel industry, also working to reinstate the federal biodiesel tax credit.

“It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to spend billions of dollars each year subsidizing Big Oil, while letting investments in clean, homegrown energy, like biodiesel, lapse.”

Listen to Franken’s remarks here: Sen. Al Franken

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Farmer Bleeds John Deere Green and Loves Green Fuel Biodiesel

nbc-15-greg-grevingA Nebraska farmer who proudly admits he bleeds John Deere green also admits a pretty high affection for the green fuel, biodiesel. Greg Greving, who farms in Central Nebraska and is a board member of the Nebraska Soybean Board, told attendees of the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event, that biodiesel is what powers his equipment.

“This fall, my two boys, two hired men and myself, harvested 11,000 acres in 56 days [all running on biodiesel], and the only time we shut down was when we were tired,” he said. “We have not had any trouble running biodiesel.”

But Greg was doing more than just bragging about his Deere equipment and biodiesel. He was invited to the showcase to show off his 1980 Oldsmobile 98 Regency with a 5.7 GM diesel engine, in which he also uses biodiesel. Whether it’s his car or the farm equipment he runs, fuel quality is of the utmost importance. That’s important to hear, as the National Biodiesel Board announced its new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

You can hear to Greg’s remarks here: Greg Greving, Nebraska Soybean Board at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Hino Hauls Biodiesel Feedstock … on Biodiesel!

nbc-15-spencer-nicolNot only does Hino want its trucks to haul the feedstocks that go into making biodiesel, but the big truck maker wants them to get there on biodiesel.

“Our 33,000-pound diesel truck can be used by you guys hauling bio stock, and you can run it on a B20 blend, anytime you want,” Spencer Nicol, Hino’s senior manager for strategic product applications, told attendees of the conference’s Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event, thanking the National Biodiesel Board folks who have helped bring Hino’s biodiesel-compatible trucks to Midwesterners’ attention.

Spencer also made sure to point out that Hino, a division of Toyota, builds many of its models in the U.S. at a plant in West Virginia and components in Arkansas.

During the Ride-and-Drive event at the conference, Hino was also able to show off its new 195h hybrid diesel medium duty truck.

You can hear to Spencer’s remarks here: Spencer Nicol, Hino, at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Ford Wants Biodiesel to Fuel Working Vehicles

nbc-15-jon-colemanBiodiesel has long been a workhouse of the nation’s renewable fuel industry, and Ford Motor Company wants to make sure the green fuel is used in work vehicles that also get things done.

“When you think about those trucks, they might not be your daily driver, but you rely on those trucks every day. Those are the trucks that repair your roads. Those are the trucks that work on the oil and gas industry. Those are the trucks that repair your utility lines,” said Jon Coleman, Ford’s sustainabliity and technology manager, pointing out this his company has been working with biodiesel for 20 years to help people who keep America running. “The plumber, the florists, the bakers, and the guys who fix your air conditioning, they need to be able to use biodiesel, too. So we launched the new Transit [van] this year that [has options to run on seven different fuels], including biodiesel.”

Jon said Ford is all about choice, and he hopes workers will consider Ford options, especially those that run on biodiesel. He also told the audience that the new biodiesel-compaitible F-650s and 750s coming this summer will be built in the U.S., just like biodiesel, bringing jobs back to America.

You can hear to Jon’s remarks here: Jon Coleman, Ford, at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Volkswagen Aims to Offer Diesel Option in Every Model

nbc-15-stuart-johnsonThe Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event at the conference gave attendees a chance to get a sneak peek at what the automakers will be offering in terms of what will be available in the near future, especially in terms of biodiesel compatibility. News from Volkswagen’s Stuart Johnson was certainly music to the ears of those attending.

“Our strategy for Volkswagen is to have a diesel engine in every single model we offer in North America,” Stuart said, pointing out that only one SUV, the Tiguan, doesn’t yet have a diesel option. And he says they also want to have diesel offerings for VW’s other brands, including luxury Audis and even Porsches. “These modern diesel engines are so refined that they fit in a luxury car very well.”

Volkswagen is also big on using biodiesel in these vehicles and has worked hard with the National Biodiesel Board (NNB) and industry to make sure the fuel is up to specifications and will perform well in its diesel offerings. Stuart was glad to hear about the new BQ-9000 Retailer Program, which will ensure the quality of the biodiesel through the entire process, right into the consumers’ fuel tanks.

“All OEMs want the quality of fuel come all the way down to the retail level,” Stuart said, adding that this new program could be like the gasoline industry’s top tier program, but for biodiesel. “It’s something we’re really excited about, and it’s something we think is really good for our customers.”

You can hear to Stuart’s remarks here: Stuart Johnson, Volkswagen, at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Quality Brought Biodiesel Industry to Where It Is Today

nbc-15-scott-fenwickIt’s fuel quality that has brought the biodiesel industry to where it is today. And Scott Fenwick, the National Biodiesel Board’s technical director told attendees of the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event at the conference that the National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (NBAC), better known as BQ-9000, a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of companies that produce, test, and supply biodiesel fuel, serves as a key link between the industry, the producers, the blenders and marketers with the consumers.

“Up until today, we’ve had programs in place for producers, marketers and independent labs doing that testing. Today, a new program for BQ-9000 retailers will be the last remaining cog to that continuum of fuel quality,” Scott said.

He added that more than 90 percent of the biodiesel produced comes from BQ-9000 producers. NBB’s partners in the biodiesel industry wanted this new BQ-9000 Retailer Program to make sure consumers get the appropriate industry specifications when it finally goes into their fuel tanks.

The program will be forwarded to all NBB member companies for comments for 30 days, with a final review and release of the findings later in March.

You can hear to Scott’s remarks here: Scott Fenwick at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel & Vehicles Showcased at Conference

nbc-15-steve-howellOne of the highlights of this year’s conference, as it is every year, was the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event, where vehicle makers gave us a sneak peek at what’s coming from them that runs on biodiesel. Steve Howell, the National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) senior technical advisor, said when the industry started more than 20 years ago, they had a very modest goal of producing 30 million gallons of biodiesel nationwide annually. Now, an average plant cranks out that much each. He credits working with partners in the automaking industry for the increase.

“We’ve done the work necessary to answer the questions that they have about biodiesel in the engines of vehicles,” he said. “Because if we answer their questions, we know we’ve answered customers’ questions.”

Steve said that close, working relationship is highlighted by the biodiesel industry’s constant outreach to the vehicle makers and the fuel industry to ask what can biodiesel do for them next, such as oxidation stability and metals content. “So that these new technology diesel engines that have better fuel economy and cleaner emissions work with biodiesel blends.”

He thanked the partners participating in not only this showcase, but the biodiesel industry, including John Deere, Ford, Volkswagen, Hino Trucks, General Motors, Peterbilt, and the Diesel Technology Forum, as well as funding they’ve received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, United Soybean Board and state soybean boards.

“We’re doing efforts to educate engine companies, to educate dealers, and all that’s possible through that funding and the work done by NBB so we can all enjoy the benefits of biodiesel in our vehicles.”

You can hear to Steve’s remarks here: Steve Howell at Vehicle Showcase

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Eye on Biodiesel Award – Pioneer

Eye on Biodiesel PioneerLast year the biodiesel industry lost a pioneer who has had a huge impact. He was honored with this year’s Eye on Biodiesel – Pioneer Award. On stage to honor him were several people for whom he had a very personal impact and accepting the award was his brother Scott Hanks.

Dallas Hanks.

The biodiesel industry lost a true pioneer with the passing of Utah State University’s Dr. Dallas Hanks last June when he succumbed to cancer. For those that knew him, Dallas was a brilliant scientist, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and all around good person. He spearheaded the visionary feedstock program Freeways to Fuels, was a huge supporter and contributor to NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program, and had a hand in numerous oilseed test plots, biodiesel laboratories, and technology start-up business at the university and around the region. The respect he had from his peers was second to none, and he has left a truly lasting legacy in the biodiesel world.

You can listen to the remarks in honor of Dallas here: Remarks in Honor of Dallas Hanks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Legislative Update and Panel Discussion

Legislative ForumConference attendees got a very good legislative update this morning from Anne Steckel, NBB, Vice President of Federal Affairs. Her session included a question and answer session with Byron Dorgan, a senior policy advisor, author, professor, and former Senator from North Dakota and Kenny Hulshof, Vice Chair for Public Policy at Polsinelli, and is a former Congressman from Missouri.

Anne told us that like last year, the two big battles will be for a strong RFS rule and for reinstatement of a longer-term tax incentive. She then shared the NBB plan for how to work on accomplishing victory this year.

When it came time for Q&A one of the best quotes of the day came from Byron Dorgan. Anne asked him how it’s possible that we’re in 2015 and still don’t have numbers for 2014. His answer was “Because there’s no maximum level of embarrassment.” (in Washington, DC). I think you’ll enjoy the exchange with these two panel members.

You can listen to Anne’s remarks and the discussion with Dorgan and Hulshof here: Legislative Forum

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt

Matt BluntFormer Missouri Governor Matt Blunt joined us during the conference today. Here he is pictured with a few members from the Missouri Soybean Association right after doing a ride & drive with some new biodiesel powered cars and trucks. Matt is now the President of the American Automotive Policy Council and lives in Virginia. By the way, he also has a small herd of beef cattle.

Matt took the stage today to deliver a powerful speech. Here are a few excerpts from it and you can listen to his full speech below.

American ingenuity and perseverance are expanding energy supplies across the board– and biodiesel is no exception. Americans would much rather have American farmers working to fuel our transportation industry than foreign leaders who do not share our values or our commitment to free government.

As both a former governor and a Naval officer I can tell you energy security remains among biofuels’ most important benefits.

Sending billions of dollars every year to nations that do not share the interests of the United States is clearly not an ideal public policy

Growing our own fuel is growing agriculture in Missouri and across the country. With soybean production in 2014 at a record level of nearly a billion bushels, soybeans are the second-most-planted field crop in the United States after corn.

And the United States is the leading soybean producer and exporter.

As new fuels enter the marketplace, whether biodiesel, renewable diesel or any other product, it is important that existing fuels remain readily available to fuel vehicles currently on the road, in order to protect consumers and their vehicle warranties.

It is essential that the auto industry and government stakeholders continue to work collaboratively to ensure the diversification of the U.S. transportation fuel supply occurs in a manner that is technologically and economically feasible, and in no way harms consumers.

You can listen to Matt’s speech here: Matt Blunt Speech

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

NBB Chair Encourages Members

Steven LevyThe Chair for the National Biodiesel Board is Steven Levy, Sprague Operating Resources. He took to the stage this morning in our general session to provide an inspiring message to members who have been facing some serious odds in the last couple years. But he told everyone about how important it is to keep trying in order to obtain success using a quote from Thomas Edison.

Across the biodiesel industry, we’re not just trying to accomplish something – we are delivering. Part of the impetus for our success is the strength of our combined expertise and collaboration.

Ultimately, Edison didn’t succeed alone. He pioneered the concept of a collaborative lab, drawing on the knowledge and talent of a diverse group of creative scientists and engineers.

Likewise, NBB taps the technical expertise and business acumen of our members – and merges that powerful talent base with the specialized skills and knowledge of our leaders, our staff, and our consulting experts.

Working together, we are far more effective, far more formidable, and far more unstoppable in our mission.

You can listen to Steven’s remarks here: NBB Chair Steven Levy Remarks

2015 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album