In comments submitted to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt today, the American Soybean Association (ASA) urged EPA to increase the volumes for biomass-based diesel to 2.5 billion gallons for 2019, an increase of 400 million gallons over the levels in the EPA proposal, yet still below the amount utilized in the U.S. in 2016.“Biodiesel has expanded markets for farmers and livestock producers and created new jobs and economic growth, particularly in rural America,” said Ron Moore, ASA President and Illinois soybean farmer.In addition to expanding markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, biodiesel provides additional economic, energy security, and environmental benefits.“The EPA and the Administration are missing an easy opportunity to help the agriculture and rural economy,” Moore added. “Given the many benefits that biodiesel provides, EPA should enthusiastically support higher, but easily achievable, volume targets for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels. An increase of biomass-based diesel volume requirements to 2.5 billion gallons in 2019 and the advanced biofuels volumes to 4.75 billion gallons in 2018 is achievable and warranted. There is idle domestic production capacity and ample, price competitive feedstock available to supply increased domestic biodiesel production.”In the comments, ASA pointed to the important market that biodiesel provides as an outlet for increasing soybean oil supplies resulting from increased demand for soybean production to meet protein meal demand.“Biodiesel production creates a value-added market for the co-product soybean oil generated by the growing global demand for protein meal. Without growing markets for the oil, U.S. farmers will not be able to maximize the opportunities being created by protein demand,” Moore said. “Soybean farmers have met the increased demand for protein meal and done so with increasing efficiency and sustainability. Since 1980 U.S. soybean farmers have increased production by 96 percent while using 8 percent less energy; land use per ton of soybean production has decreased by 35 percent; and greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 41 percent per ton.”The U.S. soybean harvest in 2016 was a record 4.3 billion bushels and plantings in 2017 are estimated at a record 89.5 million acres. Modeling indicates that these additional supplies support the increased biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels volume levels and feedstock prices would still be less than their five-year average.