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Congressional delay could cost jobs

By Staff | Jan 8, 2010

Thanks to inaction by Democrats who control the legislative agenda in Congress, unemployment numbers could worsen in the Hawkeye State this year.

The biodiesel tax credit essential to the well-being of a key renewable fuels industry expired on Dec. 31. U.S. biodiesel production may grind to a halt.

That’s why Sen. Charles Grassley took to the floor Dec. 17 to urge urgent consideration of extending the tax credit without further delay.

“President Obama and Vice President Biden have been talking for months about the need to create ‘green jobs.'” Grassley reminded his fellow senators. “In fact, President Obama has held three public events in recent days to highlight his concern about the economy and the need to create jobs. (Dec. 16), the administration apparently announced billions more in tax credits for renewable energy and energy conservation efforts.

“It seems like nearly everyone in the administration is touting the benefits of green jobs and a clean energy economy. It’s astonishing, then, that this Congress will head home for the holidays while thousands of ‘green energy’ workers receive pink slips and furloughs.”

The tax credit offsets the higher cost of producing biodiesel fuel compared to petroleum diesel. The $1 per gallon credit for biodiesel made from soybean oil or yellow grease and animal fats is vital to the evolution of this infant industry. The economic downturn has caused the growth of what may one day be a major energy source to stall.

“Without the tax credit, petroleum marketers will be unwilling to purchase the more expensive biodiesel, and demand will vanish,” Grassley said, underlining why urgent action is needed. “In 2008, the biodiesel industry supported more than 51,000 green jobs. Because of the downturn in the economy and the credit crisis, the biodiesel industry has already shed 29,000 green jobs.”

According to the Iowa Republican, the biodiesel industry is now operating at about 15 percent of capacity. Democratic congressional leaders were content to let the credit expire with the possibility of restoring it retroactively at some point in 2010.

Grassley is correct in contending that this could seriously harm the industry. Uncertainty about the tax credit’s future will add to the troubles of an already struggling part of the nation’s – and Iowa’s – economy. There is no excuse for any further delay in enacting an extension of this important tax credit.

Bold rhetoric about creating “green” jobs is no substitute for substantive action. “Once again, the actions of the majority do not match their words,” Grassley said in an appeal to his colleagues to get down to business. “For all the talk, they will have failed all those in the biodiesel industry working today to reduce our dependence on foreign oil if we leave here without extending this critical tax credit before the end of this year.”

Unfortunately, that’s just what happened.

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