The federal $1-a-gallon biodiesel blenders credit has cleared an important legislative hurdle, and the National Biodiesel Board is optimistic it will become law. Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted to end debate (invoking cloture) on the package of tax credits, including the biodiesel incentive, by a bipartisan 83-15 margin.
As the vote was going on, I talked to the NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, Manning Feraci, who believes, this time, the measure is headed for actual passage.
“What this does, essentially, is put us on a glide path to have Senate passage in the next day or two of the tax package that is carrying everything from the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, and, as it applies to the biodiesel industry, a retroactive extension through 2011 of the biodiesel tax incentive,” Feraci said.
He believes that large bipartisan support in this cloture vote is a positive indicator for final passage. But Feraci admits some Democrats, especially in the House, where the bill would have to return once the Senate passes it, have some real angst over the package President Obama negotiated with the Republicans. “The Democrats, who still control the House at this point, are trying to figure out how they’re going to play this.” He says while no one wants Americans’ taxes to go up on January 1st, there’s a high-stakes game of chicken being played right now.
Feraci admits it has been a frustrating year for the biodiesel industry with the loss of the tax break and the lack of push until the 11th hour from the Obama Administration to get this passed. And he says there are worries that some fiscal hawks, especially from the Republican side, have some real heartburn with the tax break … although Feraci is quick to point out the economic “bang for the buck” the incentive provides. In addition, if the current Congress is not able to get this passed before the new session in January, when the Republicans take control of the House, the bipartisan support biodiesel enjoys could ensure it eventually passing, no matter who controls Congress. Feraci adds that passage could make 2011 a banner year for biodiesel, because it will bring stability to the industry. In the meantime, he’s watching carefully what is happening.
“We’re just going to have to stay tuned to see how this is going to play out over the next couple of days.”
Listen to more of my conversation with Feraci here: Manning Feraci, NBB