Biodiesel industry sets new annual production record

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The U.S. biodiesel industry has set a new record for annual production, according to the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures. The industry has produced more than 802 million gallons of biodiesel in plants from Florida to Iowa to Washington, the figures show, more than doubling last year’s production of about 315 million gallons and breaking the previous record of about 690 million gallons set in 2009.

The new record comes as a federal tax incentive for biodiesel was reinstated this year, and as the incentive is in danger of expiring on Dec. 31 without congressional action. “I can say without question that this tax credit has helped us grow our production and hire new people, and it will play a big role in our growth going forward,” says Gabe Neeriemer, president of Patriot Biodiesel in Greensboro, N.C. “It will affect how many people we can hire, how much feedstock and equipment we buy, how many truckers we put to work delivering fuel.”

Patriot Biodiesel says it was forced to temporarily suspend operations when the tax credit expired in 2010. With the incentive restored this year, the plant not only is back online but also is expanding production to about 5 million gallons per year and hiring a half dozen new employees. “This incentive is working, and particularly in this kind of economy when politicians say they’re doing everything they can to create jobs, I can’t imagine why Congress would allow it to expire,” Neeriemer says.

This year’s increased production has supported more than 31,000 jobs – up from fewer than 13,000 last year – while generating at least $3 billion in GDP and $628 million in federal, state and local tax revenues, according to a recent economic study conducted by Cardno-Entrix. Biodiesel also is reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, reducing tailpipe pollution and greenhouse gases emissions and bolstering economic and national security by diversifying our fuel supply, the National Biodiesel Board says.

“This tax incentive is without a doubt stimulating production of biodiesel and creating jobs,” says Anne Steckel, NBB vice president of federal affairs. “We’re clearly seeing that from our members across the country .We have a little over a month before it could expire again, and it is past time that Congress step up and pass an extension to keep this industry’s momentum going.”