NATSO, the national association representing truckstops, travel plazas and off-highway fuel retailers, along with SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers, and representatives of the convenience store industry, urged Members of Congress to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which lays the groundwork for private sector investment in the future of transportation energy. The organizations also urged Congress to oppose any amendments that would discourage fuel retailers’ ability to invest in alternative fueling infrastructure.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recognizes the essential role that the retail fuels industry plays in lowering the carbon intensity of transportation energy in the United States, the organizations said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Our associations appreciate the difficult work it took to get bipartisan agreement on this bill and are pleased the policy choices made on transportation energy infrastructure point toward a future in which the private sector can and should have incentives to act as a multiplier of federal funds to dramatically increase the alternative energy options available to consumers across the nation,” the groups wrote.

NATSO was joined in signing the letter by SIGMA and the National Association of Convenience Stores.

The IIJA sends a clear policy signal that the federal government wants to work with private industry to achieve its shared goal of improving the environmental characteristics of the transportation sector.

The industry is making investments in a range of alternative fuels including electricity, hydrogen, biofuels, and natural gas. Grant programs that facilitate private investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging and other alternative fuel infrastructure, in conjunction with preserving the ban on offering commercial services at Interstate rest areas, encourage the industry to make these investments.

The organizations said that the alternative fuel corridor grants in the infrastructure legislation are “a good, bipartisan foundation.” The grants require the involvement of the private sector and take into account whether projects support the establishment of long-term competitive infrastructure. “That market will only benefit American drivers if it is based on competitive market principles – just as traditional fueling has been in the United States,” the letter states.

The organizations urged lawmakers to oppose any efforts to overturn the longstanding prohibition on commercial services at rest areas, including electric vehicle charging stations. If the bill were to allow electric vehicle charging at Interstate rest areas, “it would fail to live up to its aspirations and our associations would be forced to aggressively oppose it.”

NATSO and SIGMA support efforts to ensure consumers get affordable and reliable alternative fueling choices so that as new technologies emerge, Americans enjoy all the benefits they have with the existing fueling market. For that to happen there must be a competitive private market for electricity.

The associations applauded that the grant programs created by the bill do not carry large risks of allowing utilities to “double-dip” and force electricity customers to pay for them to own and operate EV charging stations while also receiving federal funds for their installation. This unlevel playing field would force electricity customers to pay for EV infrastructure while making it impossible for private businesses to put capital at risk to compete.