Lame Ducks Could Renew Biodiesel, Ethanol Tax Breaks

John Davis

Groups that represent the biodiesel and ethanol industries in this country believe when Congress comes back to Washington after the election … for what is known as the lame duck session … members could renew the pending federal $1-a-gallon biodiesel tax credit and the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC).

Michael Frohlich, Director of Federal Communications for the National Biodiesel Board’s Washington, DC office tells Domestic Fuel that while it’s not a sure thing, there seems to be many of the pieces in place.

“That being said, though, it’s very difficult to handicap or put what the odds might be because the length of the lame duck session and how they approach it could vary differently depending on the outcome of the upcoming mid-term elections.”

Frohlich adds that if the Republicans take control of the U.S. House or Senate, there’s two schools of thought that could both help the biodiesel credit’s chances: 1. members will try to cram something they’ve wanted through before the change, or 2. everyone will be a lot more amicable. He says another issue that could cause problems is finding an offset to meet Congress’ pay-go rules to pay for the credit.

Meanwhile, in a piece for Ethanol Producer Magazine, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen says since the VEETC has been vetted and enjoys bipartisan support, it could be ripe for a lame duck session victory:

With a lame duck Congress in chaos resulting from the retirements and new members-elect, it will not have an appetite for new legislation that requires committee hearings and markups. Rather, it will be looking to legislation and policies that are already vetted and, for lack of a better analogy, they can simply cut and paste.

Frohlich adds that the lack of support from the Obama Administration, despite paying lip service to supporting green fuels, has been frustrating.

“It seems like it’s great for a press event or a soundbite, [but] they can’t see the forest for the trees.” He says 24,000 jobs could be either saved or created with the renewal of the biodiesel tax credit … at a time when this country desperately needs to put people back to work.

“It’s kind of one of those things where you’re left scratching your head wondering why something so fundamental and rudimentary Congress seems to ignore.”

Listen to my conversation with Michael here: Michael Frohlich, NBB

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