Paper mills cut down trees while sucking up massive amounts of fossil fuels and get big money from the government to do it – all through a loophole in a law that was supposed to benefit renewable energy. A law enacted in 2005 contains a section that gives businesses an incentive to mix alternative energy sources with fossil fuels. To qualify for the tax credit, paper companies started adding diesel fuel to “black liquor”, a pulp-making byproduct that they were already using to generate electricity on its own.
But time might be running out for this egregious misuse of taxpayer money: the unemployment extension bill approved by the Senate and on its way to the House would eliminate this loophole and use the funds for health care. (Editor’s note: We’ve contacted both the editor and writer of this story at BusinessWeek to confirm that this loophole will still be closed in the bill just passed by the Senate, and will update if more information becomes available. In the meantime, there’s this resource which seems to confirm the loophole is in fact being closed.)