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No more delay on tax credits

By Staff | May 7, 2010

In one way of looking at the U.S. oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it really doesn’t matter if it was a freak accident, sloppy protocols, defective equipment, human error or even ecoterrorism. This event makes it evident that in the rush to feed the nation’s need for energy, the U.S. must get the biodiesel tax credits back into action.

Americans, and their lawmakers, seem to have this wishful thinking mentality that sooner or later some bright person will step forth and hand down the solution to a greener America, without altering the nation’s way of driving its economy through energy and power. But I propose that those bright people have already stepped forward with development of – complete with marketing vehicles for – biofuels.

Admittedly, biofuels are only one part of the whole solution for weaning ourselves off of the amount of fossil fuel we burn, but biofuels are a key part of the whole picture.

Even the chief of biofuels division for British Petroleum, the company whose rig caught fire and sunk causing the massive oil blowout last week, was quoted April 28 at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., as describing biofuels as “the new oil, created from unlimited sources of free biomass rather than the limited fossil resources of biomass.”

I’m not one of those who think Americans must curtail the way we live, work and generate wealth just to cut down on oil use. However, I do think there are ways we can become more efficient in the use of petroleum and biofuels is one of them.

Last December the tax credits for biofuels was allowed to elapse and since then, plants across the nation have stopped production or closed for good. Despite federal lawmakers saying they know the importance of getting those plants back into production, the tax credit has still not been reactivated five months later.

Opponents say that any development that needs tax credits to exist is not a viable product. Well, biofuels are viable products and do need tax credits right now to encourage more industrial investment.

I don’t think that we must build more plants per se, but we need investments for finding more efficient ways to get more fuel per bushel of beans, corn, flax, sunflowers, or more fuel per ton of cellulose feed stock.

POET is already touting that it has become more efficient in ethanol technology, not only getting more gallons of alcohol per bushel of corn, but also in using less water in the process. To get to that stage, it took private investments working hand-in-hand with government grants to get it done.

The blame for the oil spill threatening the livlihoods of Gulf Coast residents will eventually be determined. That investigation must be done, but in the mean time, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this event shows the need for more biofuel manufacturing in this country.

Have a good week.

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