7 months ago by Todd Gleason - University of Illinois Extension.
Support for biodiesel made from soybeans is coming to a head in Washington, D.C. Farmers, politicians, and biodiesel producers want continued support of the renewable fuel.
There are two pieces to the development of the biodiesel energy segment. The first is the one-dollar-per-gallon tax incentive. Democratic Senators from ND, MN, IN, WA, and IL are hopeful it will be retroactively reinstated for 2013 and put in place for 2014 as part of the tax extenders package now under discussion in congress. However, it may be important to note the some 200 biodiesel plants around the nation produced nearly one-point-eight billion gallons of the advance biofuel last year without the aid of the incentive. That’s because the incentive expired says Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, "This is the third time it has expired in the last five years, so clearly federal policy has been very uncertain for our industry. But, despite all that we did have a record year of production."
And although 2013 was a record year for biodiesel production, it was only operated at about two-thirds capacity which …and this is the second important point… is close to double the federal biomass-based diesel requirement under the original renewable fuels standard or RFS. So, biodiesel production in the United States last year was greater than required by the federal law mandating renewable fuels be used, that’s the RFS implemented by US EPA, and it did that without the aid of a tax incentive. Still, democratic senators stood in support of both the tax incentive and an increase in the biomass based diesel portion of the RFS. Illinois’ senior Senator Dick Durbin says it is because the fuel is clean, homegrown, and creates jobs.
This industry creates real good paying jobs, 5 different biofuels processing facilities in my state and more than 5,000 people with associated employment," Durbin said. "There's uncertainty about the future of biofuels and there's uncertainty about these jobs," Durbin said. He wants to take care of the tax part of the biodiesel program first with the "extender bill" that includes the biofuel tax credit. And secondly Durbin said, "Beyond the biofuel tax credit, let's make sure that we continue to plead our case with the EPA."
U.S. EPA will in June release the federal renewable fuels standard. It, as proposed, would set the biomass based diesel requirement at 1.28 billion gallons. The industry, the biodiesel board, and some Senators would like that number to be closer to 1.8 billion gallons. They’d like to protect the industry, the jobs, and they say the environment.