The National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) has praised a Minnesota committee's decision to table legislation that would require diesel fuel sold in Minnesota contain a minimum of 5% biodiesel fuel oil by volume.

NATSO contacted the committee last week and told legislators that biodiesel fuel costs more and that there are significant questions regarding its performance, particularly in cold weather.

"We applaud the committee's decision to table this bill," said Jason Lynn, senior director of NATSO government affairs. "The legislation would put Minnesota businesses at a significant competitive disadvantage with similar businesses in nearby states, which do not have a biodiesel fuel requirement."

Because fuel costs are a large and important part of a fleet's or independent truck driver's operating costs, NATSO said the sale of diesel fuel is fiercely competitive, with the typical truckstop operator's margin on diesel fuel only pennies on the gallon. Because the standard long-haul truck can travel over 1,000 miles without refueling, purchasing decisions can more easily be made on price rather than convenience, NATSO said.

A biodiesel requirement could result in a price increase of anywhere from 5- to 30-cents more per gallon than traditional diesel fuel, making diesel fuel sold in Minnesota substantially more expensive than fuel in neighboring states and spurring fleets and drivers to make their purchases elsewhere. NATSO said.

NATSO also said cold weather can "cloud" or "gel" biodiesel to a greater degree than traditional fuel, greatly lowering engine performance. Increased concerns about biodiesel gelling in colder weather could also persuade purchasers to avoid Minnesota businesses in favor of fueling up in other states.