NATSO urges Congress to extend biodiesel tax credit

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NATSO, the national association representing truckstops and travel plazas, along with industry partners on Monday, April 12, urged congressional leaders to act quickly to reinstate the biodiesel tax credit with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2010, to ensure a healthy biodiesel market for producers and consumers.

In a letter addressed to Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Representatives Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.), NATSO urged lawmakers to quickly convene a conference on the American Worker, State and Business Relief Act of 2010 and to reinstate the tax credit that expired Dec. 31. The National Association of Convenience Stores, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America joined NATSO in signing the letter.

“The truckstop and travel plaza industry is fully engaged in supporting U.S. environmental efforts,” says Lisa Mullings, NATSO president and chief executive officer. “Fuel retailers want to continue making investments in biodiesel infrastructure and want to continue selling biodiesel to customers. But without this tax credit, they can’t do that. Congress imposed biodiesel production mandates to stimulate renewable fuel development. Without an extension of the tax credit, the production mandate is meaningless, and consumer demand for the product erodes.”

NATSO says that since the biodiesel tax credit expired, U.S. biodiesel production has plummeted by more than 80 percent, and at the same time, motorists are changing buying habits as the price of biodiesel surpasses other fuels. The $1-pe-gallon blender tax credit makes biodiesel cost competitive with conventional diesel fuel, according to NATSO, which says the expiration of the tax credit, coupled with sagging consumer demand, has caused many producers to shut down or scale back production severely.

Furthermore, failure to reinstate the tax credit could force fuel blenders and producers to lay off employees or push them into failure, according to NATSO, which says that when the tax credit expired, many fuel blenders and producers continued to pass the $1 per gallon credit on to customers based on an assurance that the credit would not lapse and would cover all of 2010. NATSO says that extending the tax credit will increase biodiesel production while spurring retail investment in the infrastructure necessary to supply biodiesel to commercial carriers and the motoring public.