Iowa’s stalled biodiesel industry got encouraging news Wednesday when the Obama administration reversed a policy and decided the soybean-based fuel -does- meet federal E.P.A. rules on carbon emissions. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin applauds the ruling, saying it’s one big step toward getting renewable biodiesel back on track.

“The announced rule was necessary to implement that policy,” Harkin says. “In other words, we had the policy, we needed the rule and the rule was implemented. As you know, this is going to help the biodiesel industry.”

The Energy Bill stipulates 36-billion gallons of biodiesel be used per year by 2022 and Harkin says the policy change can enable that to happen. Still, most of Iowa’s biodiesel plants remain idle. A federal dollar-a-gallon subsidy on biodiesel was allowed to expire on December 31st of last year, which effectively made production of the fuel too expensive. Harkin, a Democrat, says that tax credit -may- be restored soon.

“The 50-provision tax extender bill, that has largely been a hostage of the Republican scorched-earth, filibuster-everything-to-the-max policy, we’ve been saving. So, I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to consider a variety of job-creating measures on the Senate floor early next week and I hope this tax extender will include the biodiesel tax credit.” Reports say 13 to 14 of the 15 biodiesel plants in Iowa have closed in recent weeks, at least temporarily.