The Senate voted down the latest attempt to extend the dollar per gallon biodiesel blenders credit that lapsed last December. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, failed to get the two-thirds Senate vote needed to pass a short-term extension of the expired tax credit.
Jim Collura, New England Fuel Institute’s vice president of government affairs, said, “We got a call from the National Biodiesel Board at four in the morning before the vote letting us know this was going to happen.” NEFI got many of their members to call their representatives, but not enough. Senators threw out the amendment to the small business bill by 58 votes to 41.
Senator Grassley largely blamed the Democrats for the rejection. "We couldn't find a little bit of time to keep 22,000 people employed in the biodiesel industry,” he said. “So we asked for those consents and we didn't get it, so these workers are laid off because this Democratically-controlled Congress has not extended this tax credit."
However, the issue for most senators was not with the tax credit, specifically. Some of the more moderate Republicans as well as the Democrats were concerned that if this was included in the bill, the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act (HR5297), it might have endangered a larger small business lending bill. This is largely because the amendment would have added an additional $1 billion to the legislation without a way to offset the additional cost, and so would have had a negative deficit impact.
“The problem was it wasn’t paid for,” said Collura. This latest amendment would have extended the tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel retroactively from the start of 2010 through December 31, 2010.
Collura said NEFI will continue to help get this done. “Other than getting NORA (National Oilheat Research Alliance) reauthorized, getting the biodiesel tax credit renewed is the most important issue,” he said.
The National Biodiesel Board said it deeply appreciates Senator Grassley’s continuing efforts to retroactively extend the biodiesel tax incentive. In addition, the NBB is pleased that Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, indicated on the floor his continuing desire to approve a tax extenders package that includes an extension of the biodiesel tax incentive. Chairman Baucus earlier released a summary of a revised tax extender package that includes a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive through 2010.
Collura is also optimistic that the effort to extend the biodiesel tax credit is not dead. “This is not the last we’ve seen of this,” he said.