A planned vote in the U.S. Senate today on a bill that included restoration of vital tax credits for the biofuels industry has been postponed. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he was pushing to have a tax break specifically for soy-based biodiesel attached to an energy bill but the Senate’s shepherds of that legislation decided otherwise.

“The energy bill’s been dropped,” Harkin says. “They’re not bringing it up because they didn’t get it worked out. The biodiesel tax credit — we’re still going to try to get that on a tax extenders package that we hope to pass before Christmas.” The original tax credit on biodiesel expired at the end of 2009. Since then, as many as 2,500 Iowans who worked in the biodiesel industry have lost their jobs.

Most of the 15 Iowa biodiesel plants have had to close because the fuel — without the tax credit — was no longer competitive with traditional, petroleum-based diesel. Harkin says he remains hopeful the tax credit will be restored before the end of the year, perhaps being attached to another piece of legislation.

“If there is a tax package going through, we are going to do everything we can to include both the extension — retroactively — of the biodiesel tax credit and also the extension of the 45-cents a gallon on ethanol.” The tax credit was first put in place in January of 2005 and helped to launch the opening of 150 biodiesel plants nationwide, most of which are now closed.