Obama says 'biofuels,' industry wants action

By Nicholas Zeman | January 19, 2010
Posted January 29, 2010

Biofuels have received presidential utterances in past State of the Union addresses, but results have not always been forthcoming. "First of all, there were no specifics, so there was really nothing there," said Jatrodiesel president Raj Mosali, of U.S. Pres. Barack Obama's Jan. 27 address to the nation. "The president mentioned biodiesel specifically when he was campaigning, and now he's talking about 'biofuels,' which could mean anything-and that's concerning."

In addition, grants, loan guarantees and even American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are not going to biodiesel producers for the purposes of plant optimization and upgrades. "That's 100 percent true," Mosali says. "All of this assistance is being directed toward things like fuel cells, cellulosic ethanol and electric motors-all technologies that are still far off."

The National Biodiesel Board said it was pleased that the president noted the important role advanced biofuels play in the nation's energy policy, but action is needed more than words to help the faltering biodiesel industry. "If Congress and the Administration truly want to protect and promote green job creation, they should act immediately to extend the biodiesel tax incentive," said Manning Feraci of NBB's Washington office.

Biodiesel Magazine sources indicate that many plants are shut down, eagerly awaiting the extension of the $1-per-gallon federal blender tax credit, which expired on Dec. 31, 2009. Some have tried to pass the now additional $1-per-gallon cost for biodiesel along to customers, with little result. Others don't have the cash to float waiting for payback from the government when the credit-expected by industry insiders to be retroactive- does get reissued.

"Absent quick action to rectify this problem, the environmental, energy security and job creation benefits that are derived from the domestic production and use of biodiesel are at immediate risk," NBB said.
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