The U.S. biodiesel industry applauded Tuesday as the U.S. House cleared a year-end fiscal package that reinstates the biodiesel tax incentive for 2012 and 2013. President Obama is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.
"It's been a long year with a lot of missed opportunity and lost jobs in the biodiesel industry. But we're pleased that Congress has finally approved an extension so that we can get production back on track," said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). "This is not an abstract issue. In the coming months, because of this decision, we'll begin to see real economic impacts with companies expanding production and hiring new employees."
The biodiesel tax incentive expired on Dec. 31, 2011. A recent study found that the industry would have produced an additional 300 million gallons this year with the tax incentive in place. That would have supported some 19,213 additional jobs, for a total of 83,258 jobs supported by the industry nationwide, according to the study, conducted by Cardno ENTRIX, an international economics consulting firm. Looking to next year, the study found that the industry would support some 112,078 jobs nationally with the tax credit in place versus 81,977 without it. Additionally, the return of the incentive is projected to increase household income by some $1.6 billion next year while supporting an additional $3.1 billion in GDP.
Along with these economic benefits, Steckel emphasized that biodiesel is helping reduce America's dependence on imported petroleum and making us less vulnerable to global petroleum markets that continue to disrupt the economy and threaten our national security, while significantly reducing tailpipe pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is important not just for jobs but for diversifying our energy supplies, improving our energy security and reducing costly emissions," Steckel said.
The $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive was first implemented in 2005. Congress has allowed it to lapse twice, in 2010 and again in 2012. Under the legislation approved by the House on Tuesday and first passed by the Senate on Monday, the incentive will be reinstated retroactively to Jan. 1, 2012 and through the end of 2013.
Steckel thanked the industry's supporters on Capitol Hill for pressing for the incentive, particularly Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; and Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the first and only commercial-scale fuel produced across the U.S. to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's definition as an Advanced Biofuel - meaning the PA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent when compared with petroleum diesel. The industry has plants in nearly every state in the country. NBB is the U.S. biodiesel trade association.