Life is a Mystery

3 April 2009

Black liquor

I think one brand of evil is extreme selfishness. Such as gaming a tax break just to pull in money even though you know you are doing the precise opposite of that the tax break was designed to accomplish. Why do people feel they can just wash their hands of this sort of behavior?

“The credit is supposed to encourage the use of green fuel.” Sure, I said, but isn’t it a bit weird you’re now adding diesel fuel to the process in order to take advantage of it? “It is what it is,” she said.

Who is this? Ann Wrobleski, vice president for global government relations at International Paper. What did they do? IP and other paper manufacturers added diesel fuel to the “black liquor” they use to cook fibers and make paper. Black liquor is the carbon-rich residue of the paper making process and until now has been sufficient to fuel the process without any diesel additive. Why add diesel? Because that allows the paper moguls to claim a tax credit for the use of a fuel mixture that combines “alternative fuel” with a “taxable fuel”. Get that? They add fossil fuel to a biofuel and claim the mixed fuel credit, even though for decades the biofuel alone has been sufficient for the industry.

The current estimate is that this will net the industry $8 billion in tax credits. So $8 billion of our tax dollars is going to fund this travesty! Your money, my money, paying to burn diesel for no reason other than to line paper pockets!

Read the whole story at The Nation. Get angry. Write your Senator and congressperson.

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Update: Slashdot has picked up the story.

One Response to “Black liquor”

maineguy / 5 April 2009 / 5:12am

Well this all sounds ugly but then you don’t have the facts right. First of all, the credit was not intended soley for transportation. It is in a transportation bill but the legislative history and IRS bulletins on this make is crystal clear that any use of the mixture for energy production qualifies. The IRS give examples of fish processors adding the required one tenth of one percent diesel (yes that is all) to their oil to burn in a boiler. Are you outraged by thier higher use of oil? Secondly, the paper companies I am familir with have in fact reduced their use of oil by creating the mixture. Black liquor boilers have separate oil guns used for flame stabalization. They have found that by adding in this tiny amount of oil to qualify for the credit, they use less oil in their boilers. Paper is in trouble- this saves jobs. Tx

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org