U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said last week in Mason City that the thriving business of biodiesel in Iowa is driving innovation and revitalizing the rural economy. He called it a shining example of resilient American agriculture.
Vilsack made his remarks during a meeting with Iowa biodiesel and farm industry representatives at the Soy Energy biodiesel production facility in Mason City, Iowa. "This is the resilient face of agriculture we see here today," Vilsack said, flanked by Soy Energy plant workers. "Biodiesel plants like this one are getting America back in the business of manufacturing. They are creating jobs and revitalizing the rural economy."
The Iowa Biodiesel Board thanked the secretary for his remarks and for his steadfast support of biodiesel. "Iowa's leadership in renewable energy production shows what we as a nation are capable of in building energy security and green jobs, and we're equipped to do even more," said Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, headquartered at Ankeny, just north of Des Moines.
Vilsack expressed his support for Renewable Fuels Standard and will defend it
Those in the meeting with Vilsack expressed their desire to see finalized an Environmental Protection Agency recommendation to increase biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard-2 (RFS-2). The EPA has recommended an increase from 1 billion gallons this year to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013. This represents a modest increase from the record production last year of nearly 1.1 billion gallons, and puts the industry on a steady growth trajectory.
Vilsack expressed his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard and said he would continue to be vocal about defending the RFS.
Soy Energy LLC, the plant at Mason City, employs about 40 people, and is a "multi-feedstock" plant, meaning it is capable of producing biodiesel from many different fats and vegetable oils. This includes the corn oil left over from ethanol production.
Biodiesel can be made from various kinds of feedstocks—a big advantage
"Feedstock diversity is one of biodiesel's greatest strengths, and Soy Energy's technology capitalizes on that with the flexibility to choose which resource makes the most sense at any given time," said Jeff Oestmann, CEO and general manager of Soy Energy. "I am passionate about what biodiesel can contribute to this nation, and proud that our business is a part of the solution to energy security, economic growth and environmental concerns."
Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines. It's the first and only commercial-scale domestic fuel to meet the EPA's definition as an advanced biofuel. Last year the industry supported more than 39,000 jobs and $3.8 billion in GDP, according to a study conducted by Cardno ENTRIX, an international economics consulting firm.