- - Thursday, November 28, 2013

Paul Driessen’s recent commentary piece (“Exploding biofuels’ myths,” Nov. 25) demonstrates the lengths to which climate-change deniers are willing to stretch the truth to end America’s renewable-fuels program.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was created under President George W. Bush in 2007. The Bush administration and its supporters in Congress recognized that it is paramount to America’s national security and economic and environmental interests to move away from a singular reliance on petroleum for our transportation-fuels needs.

The RFS is working. We’re importing less oil than at any time since 1991. Independent analysis by economist Philip Verleger found the RFS has saved consumers as much as $2.6 billion in 2013 alone. Advanced biofuels such as biodiesel are reducing carbon pollution by as much as 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel.

As a result of that record of success, opponents have taken to throwing out accusations of “unintended consequences.” Specifically, Mr. Driessen frightens readers with an impression of massive water consumption to support biodiesel production. Or that soybean crops meant for the grocery store are now being diverted to biodiesel production. Neither is true.

Taking the second claim first, biodiesel producers never touch the protein-rich soybean meal used in livestock feed and foods. Produced from a vast array of co-products and waste products, such as recycled cooking oil, livestock fat and plant oils such as soybean oil (left over after beans are crushed), biodiesel actually helps lower some food costs.

As for Mr. Driessen’s claim about water consumption, soybean crops are grown for the much more valuable meal portion, not the oil. So any water used to grow the crops is water that is already being used for crops to feed American families, not biodiesel production. In fact, processing of the co-products and waste products for biodiesel uses very little water. Last year, the entire U.S. biodiesel industry used one-fifth as much water as it took to irrigate all the golf courses in Tucson, Ariz.

America’s biodiesel producers are happy to debate the merits of the RFS. In doing so, let’s agree to use the facts.

STEVEN J. LEVY
Chairman, National Biodiesel Board
White Plains, N.Y.