Industry looks for mention in Obama speech

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 25, 2012

As President Obama visits a wind turbine blade manufacturer in Iowa today, biodiesel producers are urging him to not forget about them next door.

This afternoon, the president is expected to call on Congress to extend two renewable energy tax credits: the wind production tax credit and the clean energy manufacturing credit. Obama will be speaking at TPI Composites Inc. in Newton, Iowa, next door to a biodiesel plant operated by Renewable Energy Group Inc., the nation’s largest biodiesel producer.

In two letters sent yesterday, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Biodiesel Board encouraged the president to also use the moment to announce aggressive targets for 2013 biodiesel production and call on Congress to reinstate their own tax credit.

“Mr. President, we welcome you to Iowa, and before you deliver your address Thursday, please stop to look across the road and remember the green-collar workers at the biodiesel plant,” wrote Brad Albin, president of Iowa RFA.

The biodiesel industry has been pushing for the Obama administration to finalize its 2013 volume requirements under the renewable fuel standard. U.S. EPA in June proposed raising the requirement to 1.28 billion gallons, up from 1 billion this year, but in December delayed its final requirement.

Biodiesel producers have argued that the delay and lack of an aggressive target have stymied the industry.

“By quickly finalizing the increase, the administration would send a strong signal to the market and unleash millions of dollars in biodiesel investments,” said Mark Cobb, chairman of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, in his letter.

The biodiesel industry has also been calling for the reinstatement of its production tax credit, which expired at the end of last year.

Iowa is the nation’s largest renewable fuels producer. The state is home to 13 biodiesel facilities and 41 ethanol refineries.

But Iowa is also the second-largest wind energy producer and the state with the most wind energy jobs, and Obama is expected to focus on that industry in his speech.

Iowa’s senior senator, Chuck Grassley (R), applauded the president’s visit but suggested it would be more helpful if he traveled instead to the Capitol to talk to congressional leadership about maintaining the tax credits.

“It was surprising to read in the paper this week that he hasn’t talked to key committee chairmen in his own party in months,” Grassley said in a statement yesterday. “Maybe the lack of communication is why the president and the Senate Democrats let the biodiesel tax credit expire at the end of 2011 and made that industry suffer from uncertain tax policy.”