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EarthFirst Importing Biodiesel to US; Soy Lobby Reacts

14 November 2005

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.

November 14, 2005 in Biodiesel | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

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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.
Dear spoiled special interest representative:

Nice bait-and-switch you have there.

Our nation's use of foreign sources of energy remains a dependency only when these sources are an oligopoly/cartel, e.g. OPEC-sourced oil.

Diversifying energy inputs, like importing biodiesel, does cut dependency on foreign energy sources. It also allows a free(er) market to help keep energy costs down.

If that spoils your business plans, tough.

Talk about not playing fair. How's a Third World farmer supposed to catch a break? Guess they'll all have to leave the farm and move to the local slumopolis if they can't compete with subsidized, protected US farm interests. Don't we want to encourage multiple, sustainable, renewable energy sources? Don't we want to encourage international development and free trade? Maybe not...

The reality is that without the will of the midwest communities, biodiesel won't get a break. So, some politcial compramise is likely in order here.

For biodiesel to keep its tax brake, it absolutely needs the support of environmentalists, anti-middle-East-oilers, and the midwestern farming community. The movement can't afford to lose that third spoke.

ddd & Nick read it correctly. Lobbies are at work one more time to kill imports and maintain high prices for local products. We may expect the same approach against imported ethanol, clean electricity, high efficiency batteries, wind mills, solar panels, PHEVs, EVs etc. Playing fair has not been part of US trade policies for a long time and that may be why South America refuses to join in a so-called free trade agreement. Crude OIL and Natural Gas are not affected yet because the shortages are so huge that USA could not operate without massive imports.

Too much biodiesel in this country? Sounds like a nice scenario to have. But I am still not convinced we here in the US can produce "soybean" biodiesel in those quantities, and still produce food at our current food levels and "low" prices, no matter what the ASA says, as they are only concerned about their bottom line. If a country can produce biodiesel from "palm oil" for sale, which I assume and correct me if I am wrong, is not a cultivated product, lets do it. Maybe we need to try to develop "biofuels" in this country from existing nuisance plants. Like, for instance in Texas where I am from, cactus or mesquite or bahia grass, which many here also consider a nuisance. Maybe through thermal depolymerization.

Buy from any non OPEC cartel source whenever possible. The ASA just needs to adapt and compete, and be happy that they now are experiencing a bigger market, with whatever domestic soybean biodiesel increases that we have.

The reduction of the US dependency on oil, not just foreign-oil, but all oil, is move that will benefit the environment and the entire world. The conversion to cleaner sources of energy is a step that the entire country can make to prove to the world that we are not simply a country of consumption-greedy individuals who care only about personal, short-term benefits. Yet here we are, with a new source for cleaner energy, and once again we have special interest groups (personal interest groups) thinking only of the fact that they might have to share the rewards of these tax breaks with others, and ignoring what is best for the environment and world, not to mention the individuals whose own lives might be made easier through jobs in a country not as rich as our own.

My worries relate more to the physical characteristics of palm oil biodiesel. It'd have to be blended with soy and/or canola oil to find a market in most of the U.S.

From http://www.greenergy.com/products/technical_product_info/biodiesel/biodiesel_feedstocks.html

Palm oil is the main feedstock for biodiesel in Malaysia. However, palm oil biodiesel (POME) has a high cloud point and cold filter plugging point, making it less suitable for use in colder climates in a pure 100% form. Conformance with the draft European biodiesel standard is therefore a key issue for POME. It is therefore often blended with other biodiesel feedstock sources such as soy.

Palm oil production has been linked with a number of environmental and social impacts. Palm oil plantations have been established on deforested areas in countries with valuable tropical ecosystems, where they have a negative impact on soil, water and biodiversity. Labour conditions and loss of indigenous land are also a focus of concern. Some producers are beginning to implement more sustainable palm oil production practices, but this does not negate the concern that increased palm oil demand driven by biodiesel will increase the opportunity for less scrupulous land owners to produce palm oil. WWF together with major users of palm oil in the food industry recently convened a Round Table to discuss how to achieve more sustainable palm oil production.

My worries relate more to the physical characteristics of palm oil biodiesel. It'd have to be blended with soy and/or canola oil to find a market in most of the U.S.

From http://www.greenergy.com/products/technical_product_info/biodiesel/biodiesel_feedstocks.html

Palm oil is the main feedstock for biodiesel in Malaysia. However, palm oil biodiesel (POME) has a high cloud point and cold filter plugging point, making it less suitable for use in colder climates in a pure 100% form. Conformance with the draft European biodiesel standard is therefore a key issue for POME. It is therefore often blended with other biodiesel feedstock sources such as soy.

Palm oil production has been linked with a number of environmental and social impacts. Palm oil plantations have been established on deforested areas in countries with valuable tropical ecosystems, where they have a negative impact on soil, water and biodiversity. Labour conditions and loss of indigenous land are also a focus of concern. Some producers are beginning to implement more sustainable palm oil production practices, but this does not negate the concern that increased palm oil demand driven by biodiesel will increase the opportunity for less scrupulous land owners to produce palm oil. WWF together with major users of palm oil in the food industry recently convened a Round Table to discuss how to achieve more sustainable palm oil production.

I have a question. How much crude oil is consumed to produce soy based bio diesel. If one considers the fuel used in farm equipment, the chemicals produced for crop production, the fuel used for transportation, and finally the energy consumed in crushing and processing. Are we subsidizing a system that consumes more energy than it produces?

This is abhorent. Given the choice between a corrupt Saudi Prince that could be financing terrorism and a small land holding farmer in Ecuador that is trying to feed his children ASA is telling us that we should be sending money to the Saudi Prience. There is no way that you could presently saturate the market for biodiesel right now. The demand is simply to high. Fuel is a fungible commodity, and by importing this oil EarthFirst is only going to be creating a greater demand from biodiesel from all sectors. If you want to pass an extra tax incentive for domestically produced oil that's fine, but don't exclude others from the market. Its not fair, and certainly not in the spirit of fair trade, and it really isn't in the best interests of our economy or security. Hopefully we have enough people in Congress with brains that will realize that. I think Green Car Congress needs to have some sort of political wing that could organize such a voice. What say you o fellow Green Car readers?

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