NATSO (National Association of Truckstop Operators) and other interested groups are urging Congress to reinstate the biodiesel tax credit with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2010, to sustain a readily-available supply of this alternative fuel.

Since the biodiesel tax credit expired, NATSO said U.S. biodiesel production has plummeted by more than 80%, forcing motorists and truckers to change their buying habits as the price of biodiesel surpasses other fuels.

The $1 per gallon blender tax credit makes biodiesel cost competitive with conventional diesel fuel, NATSO explained, and the expiration of the tax credit, coupled with sagging consumer demand, has caused many producers to shut down or severely scale back production.

In a letter addressed to Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Representatives Sander Levin (D-MI) and Dave Camp (R-MI), NATSO urged the 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 truckstop and travel plaza industry is fully engaged in supporting U.S. environmental efforts. Fuel retailers want to continue making investments in biodiesel infrastructure and want to continue selling biodiesel to customers,” said Lisa Mullings, NATSO president & CEO. “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.”

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.