The American Soybean Association (ASA) says President Barack Obama’s visit today to POET Biorefining in Macon, MO, highlights the role the biofuels industry can play in the creation of green jobs and drive economic development while benefiting the environment. The visit also underscores the urgent need for Congress to quickly pass a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive.

"ASA appreciates President Obama’s efforts to bring attention to the importance of our domestic biofuels industry and how it support rural economies," says ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, OH. "What we need now is for the Congress to prioritize passage of a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive to put people back to work at green jobs as soon as possible."

The biodiesel tax incentive expired on Dec. 31, 2009. Since then, biodiesel production and consumption has dramatically declined, biodiesel production facilities have closed, thousands of biodiesel industry workers have lost their jobs, and surplus soybean oil stocks continue to rise as a result of lower demand.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2009, in December 2009, and the Senate passed its version of H.R. 4213, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act in early March 2010. Both versions of the bill include retroactive extension of the vital biodiesel tax credit through Dec. 31, 2010. The House and Senate must now reconcile the differences between the two versions of the bill approved by the respective chambers.

"Congress should move quickly to seek agreement on a final bill that can be passed and signed into law," Joslin says. "Biodiesel has the best energy balance and the best greenhouse gas reduction of any fuel that is currently in the commercial marketplace, and biodiesel is the only advanced biofuel that has reached commercialization in the U.S."

The Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2) announced in February demonstrates that soy biodiesel can achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum diesel. It also requires the combined 2009 and 2010 volume levels to be met, which will require the utilization of 1.1 billion gallons of biodiesel by the end of 2010.

The biodiesel tax incentive, which is structured as a federal excise tax credit, amounts to a penny per percentage point of biodiesel blended with petroleum diesel. The young biodiesel industry relies on this support to make biodiesel more competitive with petroleum diesel, and lower the cost of biodiesel to the end consumer.

"Production of homegrown biofuels strengthens national security by reducing the nation’s energy dependence on imported petroleum, contributes to a healthier environment, and supports thousands of jobs in rural communities across the United States," Joslin adds.