Biodiesel supporters will need to keep up their efforts through spring at the very least, since the EPA’s ruling is not expected to be finalized until late spring or early summer. The industry also is encouraging grassroots and political support for extension of the expired biodiesel tax credit.

Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a bill, S. 2021, that would extend the tax incentive until 2017, providing the certainty the industry needs to attract capital and plan for production expansion.

“The tax incentive clearly stimulates additional production and has a positive impact on jobs and economic activity, both in the refining sector and the feedstock sector,” Steckel says. “This marks the third time in five years that this incentive has expired. This uncertainty is incredibly disruptive, not just to biodiesel plants across the country, but also to our bipartisan goals of creating jobs in new domestic energy industries and boosting energy security by diversifying our fuel supplies.”

Biodiesel producers, many of them small companies, are reluctant to add new jobs when there is a strong likelihood that the incentive will disappear, Steckel adds. “Many are forced to cut back production when the incentive expires, causing job losses and even plant closures.

“Unfortunately, the outlook for an extension is just not clear,” Steckel continues. “We know the biodiesel incentive has strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate, but it’s a victim of the continued gridlock in Congress, so we will keep pushing and calling on lawmakers to pass it as quickly as possible.”

Axing that tax incentive will impact more than farmers. “This will hurt the rural economy, because it will reduce farm income,” says Cunningham.

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