U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) today called for the Administration and Congress to support policies that stand up for biodiesel jobs and production.
Joined by biodiesel producers from North Dakota, Washington, and New Hampshire, the Senators reinforced the potential detrimental impacts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed rule to reduce the required amount of biofuels produced in the U.S. They also called for Congress to extend the biodiesel tax credit -- which expired on December 31, 2013 -- that aids future investment in biodiesel technologies and deployment. The tax credit is included in legislation the Senate is currently debating.
But a new study from the National Biodiesel Board, shows that the lack of certainty of federal policies is already hurting farmers and producers that help our country becomes more energy independent. According to the findings, nearly 80 percent of U.S. biodiesel producers have scaled back production this year and almost 6 in 10 have idled production altogether. Additionally, two-thirds of producers said they have already reduced or anticipate reducing their workforce as a result of the downturn.
"The Renewable Fuels Standard was created more than ten years ago to drive growth in the biofuels industry," Durbin said. "And with the help of the biodiesel tax credit, the biodiesel industry has delivered on its promise, supporting thousands of jobs in Illinois and helping drive economic development in our rural communities. But as illustrated by the survey released today, two recent issues have put this industry -- this success story -- at risk. I will continue working with my colleagues to extend the biodiesel tax credit and push the EPA to fix its draft rule for the Renewable Fuels Standard to reaffirm our commitment to strong biofuels industry."
"Biodiesel has an incredible success story to tell. Farmers in North Dakota and throughout the country are supporting good jobs, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and boosting rural communities," said Heitkamp. "But instead of promoting these successes, federal policies are dragging our farmers and producers down. That's the wrong direction. In February, I brought EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to North Dakota to talk with farmers and learn firsthand how proposed regulations impact them. And I'm going to continue pushing on the EPA and Congress to implement policies that stand up for our farmers and producers."
"It's time to provide predictability so that Washington state innovative companies like General Biodiesel can grow," Cantwell said. "Investing in biodiesel is a win-win-win: It's good for energy security, good for the environment and it means jobs today in Washington state and around the country. That's why I have introduced bipartisan legislation to give businesses the certainty they need to invest in the development of affordable, domestic alternatives to fossil fuels."
"Local biodiesel companies are powering innovation and boosting local communities in Minnesota and across the country," Klobuchar said. "We need to maintain a strong Renewable Fuel Standard that will support the production of fuels like biodiesel that help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create good jobs. The Administration needs to abandon its efforts to weaken the RFS and focus on creating a stable, predictable environment that will help our biodiesel producers create jobs and power our economy."
"Homegrown renewable energy, like biodiesel, not only creates jobs and economic development in Minnesota and across the country, but it also strengthens our national energy security by cutting our reliance on foreign oil," said Franken, a member of the Senate Energy Committee. "That's why now is exactly the wrong time for the EPA to try to weaken the Renewable Fuels Standard and allow big oil companies to blend less biodiesel and other renewables into our nation's gas supply. We need to renew our commitment to renewables, and we can start by reversing that shortsighted EPA proposal and by reinstating the biodiesel tax credit."
"Indiana is a leader in biofuel production, and I have seen firsthand the good work being done at our biodiesel plants across our state," said Donnelly. "The biodiesel industry is an excellent example of American-made energy that increases our energy security and creates jobs at home. That is why it is so critical that we continue and strengthen energy policies, like the Biodiesel Tax Credit and the Renewable Fuel Standard, that increase the production of American-made biofuels."
The EPA's proposed Renewable Fuel Standard rule would establish a biodiesel standard of 1.28 billion gallons this year, forcing many farmers and producers to shut their doors. But last year, biodiesel producers -- using products grown on farms in North Dakota and throughout the country, like canola and soybeans -- generated a record of nearly 1.8 billion gallons, with plants in almost every state in the U.S. supporting about 62,200 jobs. And biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared to petroleum diesel.
The U.S. biodiesel tax credit provided a $1-per-gallon tax incentive that is proven to stimulate additional biodiesel production, and as a result, support good jobs, boost economic growth, reduce emissions, and support our energy security.