EarthFirst Americas (EFA), a wholly owned subsidiary of EarthFirst Technologies, has begun importing biodiesel to the US. The first shipment, which arrived at the Port of Tampa on November 8, 2005, contained 878 metric tons (267,790 gallons) of biodiesel and is believed to represent the single largest cargo of biodiesel ever imported into the United States.
EFA plans to import regular shipments that are expected to grow to monthly loads of 3,000,000 gallons by the end of the first quarter of 2006.
EFA plans to source its biodiesel from variety of feedstocks. The first cargo of biodiesel was made entirely from Ecuadorian palm oil utilizing existing refining technologies. EFA’s partner in the development of biodiesel is La Fabril of Manta, Ecuador, one of the region’s largest manufacturers of oils from palm fruit and soy.
In collaboration with La Fabril, EFA has arranged for follow-on monthly shipments of biodiesel to commence in January 2006. The Company expects to arrange importation of up to 45 million gallons during 2006, more than half of which is expected to be brought into the Port of Tampa. The Company expects to import over 100 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) expressed “outrage” over the announcement, challenging the move as designed simply to take advantage of the new tax incentive for biodiesel sold in the United States.
Importing biodiesel will only subsidize foreign farmers and biodiesel producers with U.S. taxpayer dollars. The Administration and Congress must act immediately to eliminate loopholes that allow foreign biodiesel from exploiting a key part of our national strategy for reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.—ASA President Bob Metz
US biodiesel production (not capacity) in 2005 is expected to total about 30 million gallons, with plans to expand domestic output to 80 million gallons in 2006, and as much as 200 million gallons in 2007. Clearly, if Earthfirst achieves its import goals, it would have a significant impact on the domestic market.
ASA is now lobbying to have the tax incentives apply only to biodiesel made from feedstocks produced in the United States.
It was the clear intent of Congress to restrict agri-biodiesel feedstocks to a limited list of vegetable oils and animal fats. ASA vehemently opposed the decision by the Internal Revenue Service to interpret the statute to allow biodiesel made from vegetable oils not specifically listed in the statute, including tropical oils such as palm oil, which are not produced in the United States, to qualify for the tax incentive. ASA now calls on Congress and the Administration to correct this loophole.—Bob Metz
ASA is also calling for an offsetting tariff on imported biodiesel to equal to $1.00 per gallon tax incentive.
The situation is similar to that of the brouhaha over Cargill’s attempt to import ethanol originating in Brazil last year (earlier post). Brazilian ethanol from sugar is about half the cost of US ethanol from corn.
EarthFirst incorporated in 1997 with a focus on becoming a leading commercial provider of environmental solutions for liquid and solid waste streams.