The U.S. Senate did not pass the amendment to the highway bill that would have extended key biofuel tax incentives, such as the Cellulosic Biofuels Producer Tax Credit, the Accelerated Depreciation Allowance for Cellulosic Biofuel Plant Property, and the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit available to blender pumps and other ethanol fueling infrastructure. The final vote on the amendment introduced by Senate Ag Committee ChairwomanDebbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was 49-49.
A separate amendment from Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., that would have extended the biodiesel tax credit also failed to garner the necessary 60 votes. So uncertainty remains for the biodiesel tax credit. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, argues for a stand-alone bill, but one that includes all the credits that expired Dec. 31 and also the credit for wind energy that will expire at the end of this year.
Both the National Biodiesel Board and the Advanced Ethanol Council expressed their disappointment. AEC Executive Director Brooke Coleman says the Senate missed an opportunity to put to bed the pressing need to extend expiring tax incentives for cellulosic biofuels and other sources of domestically produced clean energy. At the same time Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for NBB says it's also a missed opportunity for Congress to do something about these oil price spikes by diversifying our fuel supplies and reducing our exposure to the global petroleum markets.
"Every member of Congress agrees that America needs to reduce its reliance on imported oil and create jobs here at home," Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said. "These tax incentives would help accomplish both of those goals. It is widely held that the lack of policy certainty is driving clean energy investment overseas and putting the United States behind the eight ball when it comes to clean energy development."
Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis also expressed his disappointment about the failure of the amendments, especially the provisions to provide blender pumps.
"We can bring greater amounts of affordable, clean, renewable ethanol onto the market by promoting the installation of Flex Fuel pumps, and encouraging the development of ethanol from cellulosic biomass, Buis said. "Ethanol is trading a dollar cheaper than gasoline, and the more American-made ethanol we get into the market the more affordable fuel becomes, the more jobs we create, the more cleaner our air is, and the more energy independent our nation becomes."