Tax Giveaways to Dirty Biodiesel Will Accelerate Climate Change

Last night, Congressional leaders of both parties agreed to a plan that extends tax support to several industries. The “tax extenders” package renews a slew of short-term tax credits, including those for wind production, energy efficiency, biomass and biodiesel. This set of tax credits is expected to pass this week, as an add-on to must-pass spending bills. At approximately $3 billion/year for five years, the biodiesel tax credit is both the longest in duration and most expensive credit offered as part of this package. In response, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Rose Garr released the following statement:

“The extension of the biodiesel tax credit is a $15 billion mistake that wastes taxpayer money and worsens the twin crises of climate change and mass extinction. The agribusinesses backing biodiesel have continued to mislead policymakers and the public about the true emissions cost of biodiesel, but they cannot hide from the science. From a climate perspective, there’s simply no significant difference between most biodiesel and fossil fuels.

“Biodiesel is not a feel-good, Earth-friendly fuel, it just masquerades as one. Over a decade ago, biodiesel may have been synonymous with Willie Nelson’s tour bus, supplied by used cooking-oil recyclers diligently rounding up used oil. It’s a nice story, and one that has been happily propagated by the huge agribusinesses that grow soy, corn, and palm for most biodiesel production.

“The reality is that biomass fuel and biodiesel from food crops are pushing new agricultural expansion in Latin America and Asia, where tropical forests are disappearing under the onslaught of mega-farms. When land use and forest conversion are fully considered, the climate impact of biodiesel rivals or even exceeds that of oil and gas. California and the European Union already recognize that soy biodiesel – the majority of US biodiesel stock – offers no climate advantage. We don’t have another 5 years or $15 billion to waste.And biomass tax credits actually promote burning forests for electricity – an idea so clearly detrimental to the planet that any taxpayer support for this energy source is an affront to the idea of environmental stewardship.

“By ignoring recent evidence and extending these biodiesel and biomass tax credits, congressional Republicans and Democrats alike have shown that they are a decade behind in their thinking. Our leaders must be as diligent in rooting out false saviors as they are in pursuing real climate solutions.”