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US politicians introduce Renewable Fuel for Ocean-Going Vessels Act

December 14 ------ U.S. Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01) and John Garamendi (CA-08) introduced the Renewable Fuel for Ocean-Going Vessels Act, legislation that would allow companies to preserve RIN credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for renewable fuel used for ocean-going vessels. As informed, the legislation designates renewable fuel used in ocean-going vessels as an “additional renewable fuel” (similar to jet fuel) under the Renewable Fuel Standard. This will enable companies to preserve RINs in the program. 


According to U.S. politicians, ocean-going cargo ships, tankers, and passenger vessels need low-carbon, low-sulfur biodiesel and renewable diesel which provides an additional market for biofuels. The aim of this legislation is to allow RINs to be generated for renewable marine fuel without requiring an obligation on any parties. “I thank my colleagues for supporting this legislation which opens the door for communities, like farmers in Iowa, to engage, and be involved, in the marine fuel industry and conversation,” said Miller-Meeks. 


“Reducing emissions from cargo vessels and cruise ships means cleaner air and healthier communities near our ports and working waterfronts. I am thrilled to introduce this new, bipartisan bill with Representatives Miller-Meeks, Gimenez, and Budzinski to support the global maritime industry’s transition to cleaner, renewable fuels,” said Garamendi. “And that transition can start in California with the Bay Area’s skilled, union refinery workers I am honored to represent in Congress who are ready, willing, and able to produce renewable biofuel for ocean-going vessels.”   


Monte Shaw, Executive Director of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) said that this legislation will help expand the use of biomass-based diesel in oceangoing vessels, which makes biofuels a low-cost, home-grown solution for the air, land and sea. “IRFA members thank Rep. Miller-Meeks for pushing creative solutions that drive demand for biofuels while enhancing energy security, reducing emissions and supporting family farmers.” 


“We applaud Rep. Miller-Meeks for taking a leadership role in making this important, common-sense fix to the RFS,” said Grant Kimberley, Executive Director of Iowa Biodiesel Board (IBB). “The commitments to decarbonizing the transportation sector are the strongest we’ve ever seen, and that includes the marine industry. We all have an interest in encouraging ocean-going vessels to reduce the marine industry’s greenhouse gas impact through the use of biodiesel.”    


Suzanne Shirbroun, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President and a soybean farmer from Farmersburg, Iowa stated that by some estimates, sustainable marine fuel is poised to cross 325 billion dollars by 2036, and it’s in everyone’s interest that soybean farmers and biodiesel producers capture some of that the value. “When farmers participate in the energy market through greater demand for soybean oil, the farm economy becomes diversified and stronger. We thank Rep. Miller-Meeks for having the foresight to encourage the blue-water marine fleet to use biodiesel in its fuel, which will reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality around ports while strengthening the farm economy,” Shirbroun added. 


The newly introduced legislation was praised by Clean Fuels Alliance America, the American Soybean Association, and the North American Renderers Association. Joining Clean Fuels, ASA and NARA in supporting the legislation are the Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa Soybean Association, the American Waterways Operators and other groups seeking to increase use of low-carbon fuels and reduce carbon emissions in international shipping and travel. “International shipping companies and cruise lines are increasingly seeking low-carbon biodiesel and renewable diesel to meet climate goals and consumer demand,” said Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs for Clean Fuels. “This commonsense legislation will remove a regulatory roadblock and enable biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to meet the low-carbon fuel needs of shipping companies at a competitive price. It will allow refiners and blenders to keep RINs for fuel used in ocean-going vessels that are currently being sacrificed.” 


“NARA lauds Reps. Miller-Meeks and Garamendi for sponsoring this important legislation to incentivize the use of biofuel and renewable fuels in ocean-going vessels,” said Kent Swisher, president & CEO of the North American Renderers Association (NARA). “I bet cruise line travelers would be thrilled to learn that they are contributing to the circular economy because the cooking oil used to fry their French fries is getting a second life as renewable fuel that powers their ship.” 


To remind, the RFS excludes “fuel used in ocean-going vessels” from the definition of transportation fuels and from refiners’ and blenders’ obligations. Refiners and blenders are currently required to retire RINs from any biodiesel and renewable diesel used in vessels with Class 3 engines operating in international waters, including the Great Lakes. In the first ten months of 2023, more than 5 million D4 RINs were retired under this rule. 



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