Lawmakers' efforts could yield significant biodiesel advancements

By | August 01, 2006
Biodiesel champions on Capitol Hill have been making inroads into greater integration of biodiesel nationally. Reps. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., and Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., introduced the Renewable Fuels and Energy Independence Promotion Act, which would make the federal excise tax credit for biodiesel permanent.

The tax credit is set to expire in 2008. The incentive is a volumetric-based tax credit aimed at helping to lower the cost of biodiesel to consumers who pay road taxes, such as truckers, and in tax exempt markets, such as school districts.

The Hulshof-Pomeroy bill removes sunset provisions for ethanol and biodiesel incentives that accompanied the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), which took effect Jan. 1, 2005. It also makes permanent a small agri-biodiesel producer credit. In the following week, thanks to the leadership of another biodiesel champion, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Energy and Water Appropriations legislation. It includes $1.5 million for critical testing of biodiesel in future advanced diesel engines. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., took the lead in working to get funding included for the Biodiesel Engine Testing Program, which Congress authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. "Missourians want to buy American fuel-grown by our farmers-and research is a key factor in making biofuels more accessible," said Talent, co-chairman of the Senate Biofuels Caucus. "For years, our farmers have been feeding the nation. Now they are in a position to fuel the nation."

If the Energy and Water Appropriations bill passes Congress with the funding recommendations intact, it will increase the likelihood of major U.S. automakers' approval of the use of biodiesel blends in 2007 engines and beyond. Auto and engine makers are stepping up to meet the challenges presented by U.S. EPA regulatory standards, which take effect in model years 2007 (on-road) and 2010 (off-road). Goals of the biodiesel industry include B20 testing in post-2007 engines, and funding for research and outreach on biodiesel quality, emissions, compatibility with advanced engines, and emission control systems.
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