Soybean Industry Outlines Priorities for Next Energy Bill

The American Soybean Association (ASA), which has long advocated that soybean farmers can help the U.S. meet its energy needs through producing soy biodiesel, outlined its biodiesel legislative priorities for Congress to consider as it drafts another energy bill.

“Two key government programs have fueled biodiesel’s growth,” said Bob Metz, ASA President, during a national media teleconference. “They are the biodiesel tax incentive, enacted by Congress in 2004, and the CCC Bioenergy Program, initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2001. The small biodiesel producer tax credit that was included in last summer’s energy bill is also beginning to contribute.” The importance of these programs cannot be overemphasized, especially in a climate where the domestic biodiesel industry is expanding exponentially: Production of biodiesel fuel has grown from 2 million gallons in 2000, to more than 150 million gallons projected in 2006. Today, there are 65 operational biodiesel plants, while 50 more are under construction. Nevertheless, both the biodiesel tax incentive and the small producer credit will expire at the end 2008, and the CCC Bioenergy Program terminates at the end of this fiscal year. Because biodiesel needs these programs to recognize its potential as a renewable fuel, ASA is asking Congress to include these three points in any energy-package legislation: extending the volumetric biodiesel tax incentive, extending small agri-biodiesel producer credit, and authoring and funding a CCC Biodiesel program. “By taking these actions, we estimate on-road diesel supplies could be increased by 2 percent by 2015,” Metz said. “With each fill-up, Americans are reminded of our energy challenges. While there are no simple answers to this problem, one can safely conclude that the country needs more fuel. And that’s a need soybean farmers stand ready to fill through the production of more soybean-based biodiesel.”