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US biodiesel producers move to stop imports from Argentina

Washington — A leading biodiesel trade group is pressing the US Environmental Protection Agency to temporarily suspend a decision it claims will streamline biodiesel imports from Argentina under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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The National Biodiesel Board said Tuesday that it had filed a petition with EPA to stay the decision, arguing that the agency's decision was made without public comment and little transparency on how producers from Argentina would comply with the RFS.

"We have serious questions about how Argentinian producers will certify that their product meets the sustainability requirements under this new approach and whether US producers will be operating under more strict regulations," Anne Steckel, the NBB's vice president of federal affairs, said in a statement. "As a result, we have asked the EPA to hold and reconsider its approval to allow a more open process with public comment and discussion."

An EPA spokeswoman said Tuesday that the agency had just received the NBB's petition and "will review the petition and respond to it."

On January 27, EPA approved an application from Argentina's Biofuels Chamber, Carbio, that would allow imports from Argentina to qualify for the RFS. As much as 600 million gallons of biodiesel from the South American country could be exported to the US due to this decision, NBB said. The EU blocked Argentinian biodiesel imports in 2013 after about 450 million gallons were shipped into the EU in 2012, NBB said.

NBB said Tuesday that the EPA's approval allows Argentina's biodiesel industry to sidestep mapping and tracking requirements foreign producers must typically follow to meet the RFS, instead allowing for a program "that seems far less stringent and more difficult to verify."

In February, Chris Grundler, director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said the agency plans to base its 2014 RFS on actual biofuels production and reiterated the EPA's plan to propose the 2014, 2015 and 2016 mandates this spring and finalize them by the end of the year.

--Brian Scheid,
--Edited by Annie Siebert,