Leaders with the Iowa Biodiesel Board says they’re “disappointed and concerned” Republican congressional candidate Brad Zaun does not support the federal tax incentive for soybean-based biodiesel.
Zaun said last Friday that taxpayers “cannot afford” the tax break for biodiesel. Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, plans to meet with Zaun early next week. “Senator Zaun made some really strong comments in support of ethanol and its importance to Iowa’s economy and, frankly, we feel like if someone’s in support of ethanol there’s really no reason why they shouldn’t be supportive of biodiesel except for maybe a lack of facts and information, we’re looking forward to that opportunity,” Olson says.
The tax break for biodiesel expired at the end of 2009 and Olson says nearly half of Iowa’s 15 biodiesel plants are now idle or closed for good. “Ethanol’s enjoyed 30-plus years of federally tax-funded support and we think biodiesel can be at the same place ethanol will be in the future, provided we continue strong legislative support of the fuel,” Olson says.
According to Olson, all five current congressmen from Iowa support extending the biodiesel tax credit. Zaun last week suggested the credit has cost taxpayers up to $600,000 for each job created in a biodiesel plant, and Zaun called that “excessive.” Olson says he’s not sure where Zaun got those figures.
“Certainly jobs are important, but biodiesel’s about something much broader. In Iowa, it’s clearly about adding value to the farm economy. It’s clearly about a clean, green fuel,” Olson says. “It’s clearly about national security and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
A spokesman for Zaun says the candidate welcomes next week’s meeting as a way of illustrating Zaun will have an “open-door policy” as a congressman to hear from all his constituents. Zaun is challenging Congressman Leonard Boswell of Des Moines in this fall’s election.