The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) welcomed news that California’s Air Resources Board has affirmed biodiesel as the fuel source with the smallest carbon footprint.

The news is particularly impactful given the body from which it came. California’s stringent air quality standards are no secret, and the Air Resources Board has spent seven years evaluating various fuels, including biodiesel, petroleum-based diesel and gasoline, natural gas and corn ethanol, to determine the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the production of each type of fuel. As you can see from the table below, the production of soy-based biodiesel reduced emissions by more than 50 percent, and biodiesel from all feedstocks combined potentially reduced emissions by as much as 81 percent.

Obviously, this is an exceptional validation for biodiesel and its ability to reduce carbon emissions, and the American Soybean Association (ASA) will use this information to continue its push to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and similarly-tasked federal agencies to represent the significant advantages of biodiesel in the nation’s energy policies, beginning with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Biodiesel is the most sustainable fuel on the planet,” said Don Scott, NBB director of sustainability. “Low carbon alternatives can also be low cost alternatives when we use diverse supplies of renewable resources.  This validates that California’s carbon reduction goals are obtainable.”

The findings echo what the EPA determined five years ago in establishing the federal RFS. Under that program, biodiesel qualifies as an Advanced Biofuel, with the EPA analysis showing that it reduces carbon emissions from 57 percent to 86 percent.

“California’s analysis, which has been validated by independent academic review, provides confidence that biodiesel is, without question, a more sustainable alternative for transportation fuel,” Scott said. “The commercial success of the growing biodiesel industry suggests goals to further reduce greenhouse gases and displace imported petroleum are appropriate and achievable.  With a focus on carbon reduction and the national policy to support it, biodiesel could reduce carbon emission by 40 million tons annually.”

The estimates provided for likely fuel pathways include:


ULSD (standard diesel)

102.76 g/MJ
Gasoline 99 (CaRFG) g/MJ
Corn Ethanol 80.09 g/MJ
Compressed Natural Gas 79.46 g/MJ
Used Cooking Oil
Corn oil
51.83 g/MJ
19.87 g/MJ
32.83 g/MJ
50.23 g/MJ
28.68 g/MJ

These scores are reported in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule of fuel. All off the feedstocks listed for biodiesel are used in significant volumes. Weighting these scores by the amount of each feedstock used nationally in 2014, suggests that the average biodiesel in the market has a carbon intensity of  38.4 g/MJ.-giving it the lowest carbon intensity of any category of liquid or gaseous fuel, and making it competitive with electric vehicles as a carbon mitigation strategy.

Biodiesel is America’s Advanced Biofuel and is made from readily available, renewable resources. Produced in nearly every state in the nation, the biodiesel industry supports some 62,000 jobs from coast to coast.