The executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says biodiesel production in the state decreased slightly last year. But, Monte Shaw says Iowa is still the nation’s leading producer of the fuel — accounting for roughly 16 percent of U.S. biodiesel production.
“In 2014, Iowa produced 227 million gallons of biodiesel, which was down just slightly from a record in 2013 when we hit 230 million gallons,” Shaw says.
Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are primarily to blame for the production decline, according to Shaw. “The federal government let the biodiesel tax credit lapse until very late in the year and there was complete uncertainty over the (EPA’s) Renewable Fuels Standard last year, so that really led to a downturn in U.S. biodiesel production,” Shaw says.
Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities. Shaw says the same uncertainty hangs over the industry heading into this year. “What’s really said is, while we kind of held our own in 2014, what we really missed out on was taking a big step forward,” Shaw says. “This industry has the capability of producing much more biodiesel — over 300 million gallons of biodiesel in Iowa alone — so, if Congress and the EPA would just give us some certainty, ‘here’s what it’s going to be,’ I think you’d see this industry grow.”
Soybean oil increased its role as the leading biodiesel feedstock in Iowa, accounting for 77 percent of production. Animal fats dropped to 18 percent of biodiesel feedstocks, while inedible corn oil, used cooking oil, and canola oil accounted for the remaining five percent.