California's Biodiesel Industry

In 2016, in-state biodiesel production rose to over almost 39 million gallons. California currently has 9 biodiesel production plants, with several plants under construction or undergoing expansion. The nine plants are operated by: Agron, Biodico, Buster Biofuels, New Leaf Biofuel, Community Fuels, Crimson Renewable Energy, IWP, GeoGreen, and Simple Fuels.

The total gallons of biodiesel reported sold in California under the LCFS program in 2016 was 163,000 up from 126,450,435 in 2015.


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Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel made from waste or virgin vegetable oils or animal fats. It is a sustainable, cleaner-burning, diesel fuel replacement that meets strict quality specifications. Biodiesel derived from waste can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% or more.

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Opportunities abound, but the word "challenging" is an understatement when it comes to describing the regulatory landscape for biodiesel in California. Those doing or seeking to do business in the state are faced with an array of complex compliance requirements and a dynamic policy environment. Key rulemakings are underway now.

CBA has worked to solve regulatory challenges and has brought the information about this policy work to the public as articles and updates in our newsletter and on our website. CBA now provides access to a broader range of detailed information, including compliance requirements not previously presented here -- and not gathered together anywhere else -- on our new webpage for Members Only.

Please review our Join Us page for rates and other details about becoming a CBA member or a Partner Sponsor if you are a vendor/service provider.

Alternative Diesel Fuel Regulation Affects All Who Handle Biodiesel in CA

The Alternative Diesel Fuel Regulation (ADF) regulation, which became effective January 1, 2016, affects all those who handle biodiesel in the state. It prohibited blends above B20 for sale or use in engines as of that date (without an Executive Order from ARB) and required new reporting and recordkeeping as well. Biodiesel producers, importers and blenders are required to submit quarterly reports. Biodiesel producers, importers and blenders are required to report and keep records concerning biodiesel production, sales, and blending. Biodiesel distributors and retailers are only required to keep records.

The National Biodiesel Board has received certification from the California Air Resources board for the additive VESTA™1000 to meet new NOx mitigation requirements that will begin January 1, 2018 under the ADF. A draft FAQ and Reporting Form for those new requirements are being developed by ARB staff.

Find the current FAQ and Reporting Forms at:

The presentation for the May 23rd, 2016 meeting, which has helpful diagrams, is here:

CBA members have access to an ADF Summary document, which provides an overview of the regulation with background and Q and As.

Industry Engagement in LCFS Rulemaking

CBA's comments on ARB's proposed LCFS rulemaking presented at its September 22nd public workshop are a follow-up to CBA's previous comments, which provided suggestions to ARB on each of these areas of concern: Validation and Ongoing Verification, the Monitoring Plan, Accreditation and Oversight, "High Risk" Feedstocks, and Conflicts of Interest. The final rulemaking is scheduled for a vote of the board in the first quarter of 2018.

CBA members receive updates on the progress of this rulemaking in the monthly newsletter and on the Members Only webpage. Public comment letters are posted here:

ARB's LCFS meetings page has details and updated presentations:

Court Ruling in POET Case Freezes Diesel Compliance at 2017 Levels
Keeps LCFS and Alternative Diesel Fuel Regulation in Place

The 5th District Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case of POET v. ARB on March 23rd, 2017. The attorneys for POET argued that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) acted in bad faith by not completely addressing the CEQA violations as directed by the Court and sought a suspension of the LCFS to 2013 levels and a complete severance of biodiesel from the regulation.

The Attorney General's office, representing ARB, argued that ARB did act in good faith by adopting the Alternative Diesel Fuel regulation and disclosing through numerous public hearings the NOx issues related to biodiesel. The Attorney General argued POET's remedy would harm the biodiesel industry and others who are not to blame for the unintended mistakes of the ARB. She also argued POET's remedy would have negative impacts on the environment. The Attorney General requested the Court to request ARB to address the needed corrections in a timely fashion with no changes to the LCFS. In the alternative, the Attorney General argued that ARB could suspend LCFS credits for biodiesel for the remainder of 2017 and leave the other elements of the LCFS intact, giving the ARB enough time to address the remaining CEQA violations.

National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen had this to say, "The California Air Resources Board has worked hard over the past several years to create a program that is now successfully bringing cleaner fuels into the marketplace. Biodiesel is a clean, American-made fuel that has dramatic emissions benefits. Under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, credits generated from biodiesel comprise about a quarter of overall program compliance. Unfortunately, this lawsuit appears to be far more about market share for specific companies than clean air for Californians."

On April 10, 2017, the court, issued its decision.  In that case, POET appealed the lower court’s finding that ARB complied with an earlier order to review and mitigate, as necessary, NOx emissions from biodiesel under the original Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).  ARB had argued that it properly reviewed and mitigated NOx emissions when it re-adopted the LCFS in 2015 and promulgated the alternative diesel fuel (ADF) rule.

As indicated in a tentative ruling it issued, the Appellate Court did find fault with ARB’s review of NOx emissions and determined that ARB must take additional corrective action.   However, the Appellate Court did not return the LCFS to 2013 levels (as requested by POET) nor did it invalidate the re-adopted LCFS.  It also did not sever biodiesel only from the LCFS program, despite requesting additional briefing on such a remedy.  Rather, the Court found the LCFS should remain operative, except that the standards for diesel fuel and its substitutes (e.g. biodiesel) would remain at the requirements for 2017 until ARB takes corrective action and such action is approved by the lower court. The Alternative Diesel Fuel (ADF) rule also remains in place. 

On August 24th, ARB's petition for review was denied by the state Supreme Court. The POET II case will be heard in December of this year.

It is CBA's understanding that the court's ruling freezes the compliance requirement for diesel at 2017 levels but that biodiesel can be used for compliance on the same basis as other LCFS fuels.


The California Air Resources Board staff has posted regulatory guidance to clarify the Modified Writ issued by Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, on October 18, 2017, in the case of Poet, LLC et al. vs CARB et al. (No. 09 CECG 04659 JYH). Sam Wade, Chief, Transportation Fuels Branch, at (916) 322-8263 is the contact for those requesting more information. View the guidance document here: