NATSO met with key regulators in the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT's) Federal Highway Administration Oct. 27. The meeting's agenda was the proper implementation of a provision in the Highway Bill Congress passed last year directing DOT to establish "alternative fuel corridors" for alternative fueling stations.
As it did in comments filed on August 22, NATSO urged DOT to harness the knowledge and ingenuity of existing exit-based businesses for private investment for alternative fuel infrastructure without preempting consumer demand or forcing the private sector to compete with the government. Furthering alternative fueling facilities, such as natural gas and electric vehicle charging stations, is best realized if the travel plaza and truckstop industry's business environment is recognized as an asset, NATSO told DOT.
In addition, NATSO urged DOT officials to account for the effect that certain policies the agency is considering will have on other policies before the agency. For example, at the same time DOT is considering how to incentivize private truckstop operators to invest in alternative fuel equipment, it is simultaneously considering expanding vending options at highway rest areas.
"Expanding vending options would totally undercut NATSO members' food service business, which is a major growing profit center for the industry," said David Fialkov, NATSO's VP of Government Affairs who attended the meeting with DOT.
"It's important to know that the more they undercut our members' core businesses, the less money our members will have to invest in alternative fuel infrastructure, or truck parking expansion projects, and any other number of things that DOT is trying to encourage. The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing in order for this all to work."
NATSO will file comments with DOT urging the agency to refrain from expanding vending options at highway rest areas in December, and plans on working with NATSO members to file similar comments outlining their business's specific concerns with this proposal.
DOT is expected to announce its initial round of alternative fuel corridor designations on Nov. 2, 2016. NATSO will keep its members apprised of this announcement.
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