The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is continuing to push for the $1/gal biodiesel tax credit to be reinstated as soon as possible.
“As the U.S. Senate continues to tinker with the tax extenders package, biodiesel plants in Iowa and around the country remain idle and continue to lay- off workers,” said IRFA Past President and Western Iowa Energy Board Member Denny Mauser, in a statement issued on Friday.
The one-year, retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit is included in a tax extenders package (H.R. 4213) that remains in the Senate. Last Thursday, despite attempts to further reduce the cost of the $118 billion tax extenders package, the Senate was unable to approve cloture — essentially limiting debate on the measure and moving towards passage — on an amended version of the bill by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). To approve a cloture motion, 60 approval votes are needed, but the Senate only received 56, with 40 votes against the motion.
“The president stated on Tuesday [during his Oval Office address] that he would not settle for inaction on tackling America’s addiction to fossil fuels, but that is exactly what happened,” Mauser continued. “The Senate failed once again to jumpstart the proven petroleum-displacing ability of America’s first advanced biofuel. By restoring the biodiesel tax incentive, one billion gallons of renewable fuel can begin displacing crude oil immediately,” he noted.
Additionally, on Friday the Senate passed legislation to prevent Medicare doctors from receiving a 21% pay cut starting this week — a provision called “doc fix” that was taken out of the tax extenders bill, Mauser explained. “It took one hundred senators to agree to the ‘doc fix.’ While I understand that is important, how can the biodiesel industry be left in the lurch as a million or more gallons of crude oil continue to spew into the Gulf waters each day?,” he continued. “Any one senator could have stood up and said, ‘Let’s end the pay cuts and job losses for workers in the biodiesel industry at the same time as we pass the doctor pay-cut fix.’ After six months of devastating inaction, its past time for that type of Senate leadership,” he added.
Meanwhile, legislative sources following the tax extenders issue expect the Senate to continue discussing the package, with supporters likely to cut more funding in order to gain the necessary 60 votes to pass the tax package.
Although, sources believe the biodiesel tax credit is not on the chopping block.
H.R. 4213, also known as the JOBS bill, is an amended version of the legislation that passed the House in late May, after some cuts were made to help offset the cost of the bill and gain congressional support. Since the Senate is likely to make changes to the House version of the bill, the measure will have to be re-approved in the House before it is sent to the president for his signature.
Still, it remains a frustrating time for the biodiesel industry. The biodiesel tax credit expired at the end of last year, and since then, the U.S. industry has been operating at reduced rates.
Meanwhile, even if the tax extenders bill with the biodiesel tax credit extension is passed into law, which only provides an extension through the end of this year. But sources say the priority “first and foremost” remains on the retroactive extension.