Agriculture Loses Esteemed Economist and Scientist

Aug 21, 2019



Dr. Wally Tyner passed away this weekend from an aggressive form of lymphoma. Dr. Tyner’s illness struck suddenly with his passing following mere days after his first acute symptoms.This is a tremendous loss for the many impacted professionally by Dr. Tyner’s work.Likewise, it is very sad for those fortunate enough to know Wally as a friend.

Dr. Tyner’s professional impact cannot be understated.Forty-two years on the faculty at Purdue University, including 13 years as the head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, yielded more than 300 professional papers and supervision to more than 80 graduate theses. Research in the areas of agriculture, trade, energy, climate, and natural resource policy impacted countless industries and individuals.

The global biodiesel industry is among those hugely impacted by Dr. Tyner’s work.NBB and the National Biodiesel Foundation have been working with Dr. Tyner since 2009 as Purdue’s Global Trade Analysis Project evolved to become the preeminent tool for quantifying the land use change implications of biofuel policy mediated through economic markets. In 2008, USEPA proposed to exclude vegetable oil-based biodiesel from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to predicted emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC) claimed by some to eliminate the carbon benefit of biodiesel. In 2009, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) quantified that biodiesel made from soybean oil was only 12 percent lower in emissions than petroleum diesel. These early attempts at modeling global economic impacts had many shortcomings.By the time CARB adopted revisions to their ILUC modeling in 2015, models became increasingly more reliable. As a result, CARB and USEPA both agree that biodiesel from all major US feedstocks exceeds 50 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. This qualifies biodiesel as advanced biofuel and makes biodiesel and renewable diesel highly competitive under low carbon fuel standards. New data and publications between 2016 and the present continue to improve the robustness and reliability of biodiesel’s emissions benefits, including papers co-authored with Argonne National Laboratory and USDA that quantify those benefits as high as 72 percent lower than petroleum emissions.

Dr. Tyner’s input has been extremely influential in the development of priorities for the biennial Sustainability Workshops organized by the National Biodiesel Foundation (NBF), and the Foundation continues to identify funding resources to advance these research priorities. Through NBF, we were able to replicate this success for the global biodiesel industry.The European Biodiesel Board and the European oilseed crushers helped NBF fund Tyner’s work which thwarted activist attempts to destroy the European biodiesel market.That research reversed the devastating policy course for Europe while strengthening defense of US policy and cementing a future for renewable liquid fuels in aviation as well as ground transportation.

Purdue’s work on biodiesel was exemplified as recently as last month through testimony at USEPA’s public hearing on the proposed renewable volume obligations of the RFS, and their work will be cited in NBB’s upcoming comments to be filed on that proposed rule.

Wally Tyner was a true scientist, who let facts determine his conclusions. Wally was a friend of the biodiesel industry, because we too pursue the facts, and also because biodiesel has important economic and environmental benefits to improve the conditions for us all.

The family has designated the Dr. Wallace Tyner Scholarship in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture for memorial contributions. You can read more about Dr. Tyner’s professional accomplishments and details about scholarship donations by following this link: