NEW YORK – A new study commissioned by the National Biodiesel Board forecasts the biodiesel industry will add $24 billion to the U.S. economy between 2005 and 2015, assuming annual production of the fuel reaches 650 million gallons (2.5 billion L) by 2015.

The NBB says this will create more than 39,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy.

New biodiesel plants will be a boon to rural communities, where most of the jobs growth will occur, according to the study.

“You’re looking at a fairly substantial employment-generating impact,” says John M. Urbanchuk of LECG, a global expert services firm that produced the study for the NBB.

In addition, the study concludes tax revenues from biodiesel production will more than pay for the federal incentives the biodiesel industry receives.

An NBB spokesman says the expected movement to biodiesel will keep $13.6 billion in the U.S. that otherwise would be spent on foreign oil.

There are 88 plants in the nation producing an estimated 200 million-250 million gallons (757 million-946 million L) of biodiesel this year. That’s triple last year’s production of 75 million gallons (283 million L), but still represents a miniscule share of diesel fuel consumed in the U.S. annually.