May 01, 2019 | The Hill (Washington DC)
Tom Brooks is general manager of Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa, and chair of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. He also serves as a governing board member for the National Biodiesel Board.
Biodiesel companies such as mine, Western Dubuque Biodiesel in Farley, Iowa, and plant workers nationwide face an uncertain future because of the long lapse of the federal biodiesel tax incentive. This energy policy served as a key driver for leveling the playing field with oil and encouraging American-made renewable energy. But Congress has allowed it to lapse for 16 months.
If Congress does not reinstate the incentive for 2018 and 2019, dozens of plants stand to lose millions of dollars. This would deal an economic blow to the future of a vital manufacturing industry, putting good-paying jobs and production of a low-carbon, domestic fuel at risk.
It’s important to know that with plants in nearly every state, the U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry supports more than 60,000 jobs, paying more than $2.5 billion in annual wages and generating more than $11 billion in economic impact. The tax incentive has worked as intended, with the U.S. biodiesel market growing from about 100 million gallons in 2005, when it was first implemented, to more than 2.6 billion gallons annually since 2016. The tax incentive helped producers across the country continue to invest in capacity for future growth.
Biodiesel has helped to revitalize many rural areas. In Farley, a town of 1,400 people, our workers are counting on the biodiesel tax incentive. Our wages and benefits total $1.6 million per year. This has made our area a far better place now and for the next generation. Reversing course would deal a devastating blow to all we’ve built.