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Biomass-based diesel production in the USA totalled 4bn gallons (15.14bn litres) last year, according to US environmental protection agency figures reported by the Western Producer.

Comprising biodiesel, renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and heating oil, the volume exceeded targets set by the EPA when it announced its final Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) for 2023, 2024 and 2025 last June, the 2 February report said.

The RFS called for 2.82bn gallons (10.67bn litres) in 2023, 3.04bn gallons (11.37bn litres) in 2024 and 3.35bn gallons (12.68bn litres) in 2025.

Although the 2023 mandate was a 60M gallon (227M litres) increase over 2022 levels, the final amount produced was more than 1bn gallons (3.78M litres) higher, the Western Producer wrote.

“The clean fuels industry achieved what [the] EPA said could not be done,” Kurt Kovarik, vice-president of federal affairs for US trade association Clean Fuels Alliance America, which represents the biodiesel, renewable diesel and SAF industries, was quoted as saying.

The industry saw the 2023 production volume as evidence that the EPA had underestimated the sector’s potential and sent out the wrong signal to those planning to build renewable diesel plants and oilseed crushing facilities, the report said.

“EPA’s data demonstrates that the rapid, sustainable growth we projected is being achieved,” Kovarik added.

However, federal policies are not the only demand driver and state policies are equally important, according to the report.

According to Kovarik, the low renewable fuel obligation (RVO) created uncertainty for US biofuel facilities and the soyabean and canola crushing plants providing the feedstock.

The US soyabean industry had been set to expand by 35%, generating US$6bn in economic activity, but this was now at risk, he added.

Some of the proposed biofuel and crushing capacity might not get built and some existing plants could shut down, he said.

Meanwhile, at a time when the agency was reportedly finalising new mandates for 2026 – and possibly beyond – by the end of this year, Kovarik did not think the EPA would revise the 2024 and 2025 mandates.

The 2026 mandate will largely depend on which party controls the White House, according to the report.