Biodiesel tax credit extension fails to overcome procedural hurdle in Senate

By Stewart Doan

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Sept. 16 – Biodiesel backers saw their best and perhaps only chance to reinstate the ailing industry’s $1 per gallon tax credit prior to the mid-term elections go up in smoke Thursday when the Senate rejected a Republican-led effort to debate the biodiesel measure as part of the Small Business Bill.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and American Soybean Association strongly supported the procedural move.

But only 41 Senators voted to suspend the rules so the biodiesel provision could be considered. A two-thirds majority was required. Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Roland Burris – both Democrats – opposed the move. North Dakota Democrats Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan initially voted no but changed their votes after the outcome was apparent. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken cast a “yes” vote at the last minute. Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning switched his vote to “no.”

“There are plenty of folks in the Senate that need to explain how they can say they are for advanced biofuels and let America’s first advanced biofuel, leave it to wither,” a frustrated NBB CEO Joe Jobe said on Agri-Talk.

Asked by Agri-Talk's Mike Adams about the financial condition of the U.S. biodiesel industry, Jobe answered “It’s a wreck,” explaining that biodiesel production at the nation’s 170 plants has come to a “screeching halt.”

The industry’s tax credit expired at the end of 2009.

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