Bipartisan leaders push for biodiesel tax credit

Congressional biofuel champions claim biodiesel tax credit is needed to secure more than 60,000 jobs in biodiesel industry.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

May 1, 2019

3 Min Read
American GreenFuels biodiesel workers NBB.jpg
Employees of American GreenFuels, New Haven, CT, March 2019.National Biodiesel Board

In a bipartisan, bicameral effort Wednesday, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and both chambers called for extension of the biodiesel tax credit, which has now been expired for 16 months.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said the expiration is “unacceptable” and called on the House Ways & Means Committee to act quickly on a bill. All tax bills must start in the House, which Grassley acknowledged and said he would quickly follow up with action in the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs.

“I trust we can all work together to do good work to educate fellow members of the House Ways & Means Committee and House leadership on the importance of quick action on this so we can get bill to the Senate and take action there,” Grassley said at a bipartisan, bicameral rally held near the Capitol at which several members made comments.

“If the House can send us a bill extending the biodiesel credit, I look forward to working with them and others to get the extension across the finish line. It would be nice just to have some initial discussion on how we might accomplish that, and that hasn’t been accomplished yet either,” he added.

In February, Grassley introduced the Tax Extender & Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (S. 617) to renew a range of tax credits, including the biodiesel tax incentive, that expired in December 2017.

Related:Congress asked to extend biodiesel tax incentive

On April 4, Reps. Abby Finkenauer (D., Iowa), Cheri Bustos (D., Ill.), Darin LaHood (R., Ill.), Mike Kelly (R., Pa.), Ron Kind (D., Wis.) and Adrian Smith (R., Neb.) sponsored the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019 (H.R. 2089), which would extend the tax credit for 2018 and 2019.

Rep. Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) said at the rally the tax credit is “absolutely critical” and urged his colleagues in Congress to put aside differences to advance a tax extenders package. “Do it now, not later,” he said.

The biodiesel industry creates more than 60,000 jobs, which Grassley said are “needlessly put at risk” without reauthorization of the biodiesel tax incentive.

Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), stated, “Because the biodiesel tax incentive has been expired for 16 months, many companies are facing a very uncertain future. With the on-again/off-again nature of the credit, biodiesel companies are forced to build the credit’s value into contracts – and hope that Congress extends the policy at the end of the year.

“Many companies have essentially priced their products at a loss for more than a year. The economic pressure of these losses while waiting on Congress to act is now threatening the future of the industry, putting jobs at stake. It is urgent that Congress act immediately to provide the biodiesel industry certainty for 2018 and 2019,” Kovarik said.

In comments made the previous week, Raf Aviner, president of American GreenFuels LLC, stated that the success of the biodiesel industry is now in peril. “Plants cannot survive continued congressional uncertainty regarding the biodiesel tax credit. Plants will shut down, and plant employees -- the innocent bystanders -- will lose their jobs. Time is running out,” he said in a statement released by NBB.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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