Biodiesel Industry Calling All Hands on Deck

By Larry Shafer | August 16, 2011

We’re all hearing the good news about biodiesel this year. Production is rebounding. Plants are hiring. The market is responding, and the industry is on track for a record year of production.

The turnaround is well-deserved. The U.S. biodiesel industry has worked incredibly hard to overcome some very difficult times over the past two years and laid the groundwork for our current and future success.

With every successful moment, however, comes the knowledge that the future will continue to be challenging, and I would like to caution everyone against complacency. While many things are going well now, we can't let up.

As most of you know, the biodiesel tax incentive is set to expire again at the end of the year.

December may seem like a long way off, with kids back to school, Halloween around the corner, and Thanksgiving and Christmas distant holidays. But before we know it, we will be celebrating New Year’s Eve, and if we aren't aggressive now in persuading members of Congress that continued federal support for biodiesel is a wise investment, then we will surely face another frigid January.

To that end, the National Biodiesel Board is once again working overtime to rally and coordinate the industry behind our No. 1 federal priority this year, to earn an extension of our tax credit. In June, the Biodiesel Tax Incentive Reform and Extension Act of 2011 (Senate bill S. 1277 and House bill H.R.

2238) was reintroduced, and in July, just as we did in 2010, we relaunched our Fueling Action grassroots advocacy campaign and website aimed at getting everyone involved in spreading the message of biodiesel’s benefits.

Of course, NBB’s staff is also working in overdrive to help get us over the finish line. But the fact is, without you—the employees and investors who make up the biodiesel industry—we will not be able to accomplish our goals.

That is particularly true this year, when there are so many new lawmakers on Capitol Hill who know little about biodiesel and when lawmakers of all stripes are scouring government programs for anything to cut from the budget. It is critical that political leaders be made aware of our industry’s positive impact on the economy, the environment and U.S. energy security.

We must get them to understand that our industry is worth the investment—that the tax incentive helps create jobs in nearly every state in the country, helps clean our air while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helps reduce America's dangerous reliance on foreign oil. Without the tax credit our industry will be devastated, much like it was in 2010. We have a great message to offer; we just need to make sure our political leaders are hearing it.

These contacts can come in the form of phone calls and letters to Congress, letters to the editor to the local newspaper, invitations for lawmakers or key staffers to visit your plant, or enlisting local community leaders to help with the cause.

Because we know you’re busy producing and selling biodiesel, we’ve posted a trove of information on NBB’s Fueling Action website, which can be found front-and-center on our homepage at Among other things, you’ll find a list of team captains who are leading efforts in individual states, guidance on talking through our industry’s issues with lawmakers, a list of frequently asked questions, a sample letter to Congress, and information about finding and contacting your representatives.

Last year, the Fueling Action campaign mobilized more than 3,300 calls and letters to Congress, more than 150 letters to the editor and a series of media events and biodiesel plant visits.

While we aren’t in the same dire straits we were in 2010, let me reiterate: we cannot wait until winter to make our case. There are simply too many new lawmakers who are unfamiliar with biodiesel, and too strong a current for eliminating federal incentives to expect to keep our tax credit without aggressively educating Congress about why we’re worth it.

I would encourage everyone with a stake in the biodiesel industry to get involved today, starting with a visit to our Fueling Action website and a phone call to your elected representatives.

By definition, grassroots action relies on individual voices joining together to make an impact.  Make your voice heard!

Larry Shafer, Senior Advisor, National Biodiesel Board

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