In October, I toured Newport Biodiesel, and spoke with its founder, Nat Harris. Newport Biodiesel is a remarkable local business that takes Waste Vegetable Oil from restaurants across Rhode Island and converts it to ASTM certified Biodiesel, which then heats homes and powers automobiles across New England. When we met, Nat talked about some of the difficulties many in the biodiesel industry faced when the $1/gallon biodiesel Federal Tax Credit expired in January 2010. However, Nat Harris and the rest of the nacent biodiesel industry are undoubtedly celebrating the retroactive extension of the tax credit through 2011, which will become official when the President signs the tax bill.
Why is biodiesel important? I wrote about it here in detail, but for a quick primer, biodiesel emits fewer pollutants when it is burned; because it is created from waste products and plant matter, it has less than 50% of the life cycle carbon emissions than petroluem-based fuels. This is not ethanol, it is an Advanced Biofuel that can be blended with petro-fuel to work year ’round. More importantly, this is a domestic industry that takes material out of the waste stream and resuses it. Biodiesel is sustainability. And for President Obama, it is another victory in a Lame Duck session that is surprisingly bountiful. The Senate may even have enough votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this weekend.