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Agriculture Today

Congress jeopardizes jobs by failing to extend Biodiesel Tax Incentive

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January 4, 2012 | 4,660 views | Post a comment

WASHINGTON -- Thousands of jobs supported by the U.S. biodiesel industry are at risk as Congress appears to have reached a legislative impasse without extending a critical tax incentive that was slated to expire on Dec. 31, according to a Dec. 21 National Biodiesel Board press release.

“We’re disappointed,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board. “Jobs and the economy are supposed to be the top priority in Washington, yet Congress has left thousands of workers in limbo heading into the holidays by failing to extend this tax incentive. It’s a missed opportunity, and we are urging Congress to pass an extension immediately next year to limit the economic damage.

“We appreciate our bipartisan supporters in the House and Senate who worked hard to include the incentive in year-end legislation recently, and we look forward to building on that support when Congress returns,” Steckel added.

The biodiesel industry has seen a remarkable turnaround this year after Congress reinstated its $1-per-gallon tax incentive following a one-year lapse in 2010. When the credit lapsed, dozens of plants shut down and thousands of jobs were lost as 2010 production plummeted to about 315 million gallons, the lowest level since 2006.

Through the end of October of this year, according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figures, the industry had set a new annual production record of more than 802 million gallons and could triple the 2010 production volume by the end of the year.

This year’s increased production will support some 39,000 jobs -- up from fewer than 13,000 last year -- while generating at least $3 billion in gross domestic product and $628 million in federal, state, and local tax revenues, according to a recent economic study. In addition to creating jobs and economic activity, biodiesel is reducing the United States’ reliance on foreign oil, bolstering economic and national security by diversifying our fuel supply, and reducing tailpipe pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Biodiesel is a young industry with tremendous promise. It’s the first and only EPA-designated advanced biofuel being produced on a commercial-scale nationwide,” Steckel said. “But if we’re serious about diversifying our energy supply and embracing an ‘all of the above’ energy policy so that our economy isn’t held hostage to sustained $100-a-barrel oil prices, Congress has to step up and help make it happen.”

Biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines and meets a strict American Society for Testing and Materials fuel specification. Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as agricultural oils, recycled cooking oil, and animal fats, it is the first and only commercial-scale fuel used across the United States to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition as an advanced biofuel. It is produced in nearly every state in the country.

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