Prevailing in the view that ethanol and biodiesel offer the most effective alternative to foreign oil and support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, Sen. Chuck Grassley today said the tax agreement negotiated between congressional leaders and the White House contains an extension of the ethanol and biodiesel tax credits and an extension of the ethanol tariff at current rates. The Senate and House next will need to vote on the tax agreement to advance the provisions.
"Ethanol has proven its value as a homegrown, renewable fuel and, in light of the hundreds of billions of dollars shipped abroad as a result of foreign oil dependence, ethanol is a relative bargain," Grassley said. "Biodiesel also builds energy independence. Our country spends more than $730 million a day on imported petroleum. Letting these items lapse would be a textbook case of penny-wise, pound-foolish legislating."
Grassley fought tooth and nail to secure the inclusion of the ethanol and biodiesel provisions in the tax legislation agreement negotiated by the White House and congressional leaders, facing efforts by some congressional majority Democrats and the White House to undermine biofuels production. He also marshaled like-minded senators to voice support for continuing these economy-boosting provisions.
Under the tax agreement, the ethanol tax credit -- known as the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit, or VEETC, also known as the blenders' credit -- will continue at its current level of 45 cents through Dec. 31, 2011. The tariff on imported ethanol will continue at its current level of 54 cents. "The United States already provides generous duty-free access to ethanol from Brazil and other countries imported under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, but the CBI cap has never once been fulfilled. In fact, in 2009, only 25 percent of it was even used by Brazil and other countries, and for this year, the figure is projected to be less than 1 percent," Grassley said.
The current congressional majority allowed the blenders' tax credit for biodiesel to expire at the end of 2009, causing the loss of nearly 23,000 jobs. The tax agreement would extend the biodiesel credit retroactively to cover all of 2010 and through the end of 2011.
"It's tragic to lose nearly 23,000 jobs in this economy," Grassley said. "We can't risk a repeat performance with ethanol, where 112,000 jobs are at stake. Getting these tax provisions extended will boost jobs and investment in the alternative energy sector, exactly when the economy needs a real shot in the arm."
Grassley has worked at every opportunity to extend the biodiesel and ethanol tax credits. He and Sen. Maria Cantwell filed a biodiesel bill in August 2009, and he's pushed for action ever since, including making unanimous consent requests this summer, which were objected to by Democratic leaders. He also filed a biodiesel tax credit amendment to the small business lending bill. Grassley and Sen. Kent Conrad introduced a bill in April to extend the ethanol tax incentives, and Grassley has pushed to keep these green-energy job-creating incentives at the forefront.
Grassley has a long record of building support for alternative energy sources. He worked to dramatically expand the wind energy tax credit that he first authored in 1992. Also included in the 2005 energy tax incentives package were major Grassley-written extensions and expansions for biodiesel, biomass, ethanol and solar energy. Grassley also took on and derailed a deceptive smear campaign launched by Washington lobbyists against ethanol that threatened to hinder the ethanol industry.