The U.S. biodiesel industry has set a new annual production record, producing more than 802 million gallons of biodiesel in plants from Florida to Iowa to Washington state.

This year's efforts more than doubled last year's production of about 315 million gallons and breaking the previous record of about 690 million gallons set in 2009. The new record comes after a federal tax incentive for biodiesel was reinstated earlier this year.

The incentive is in danger of expiring on Dec. 31 without congressional action.

"I can say without question that this tax credit has helped us grow our production and hire new people, and it will play a big role in our growth going forward," said Gabe Neeriemer, president of Patriot Biodiesel in Greensboro, N.C. "It will affect how many people we can hire, how much feedstock and equipment we buy, how many truckers we put to work delivering fuel."

Neeriemer says Patriot Biodiesel was forced to temporarily suspend operations when the tax credit expired in 2010. With the incentive restored this year, the plant is not only back online but is expanding production to about 5 million gallons per year and hiring a half dozen new employees.

"This incentive is working, and particularly in this kind of economy when politicians say they're doing everything they can to create jobs, I can't imagine why Congress would allow it to expire," Neeriemer said.

The biodiesel industry rebounded after Congress reinstated the $1-per-gallon tax credit in December 2010. Without the incentive last year, production dropped dramatically as dozens of plants shuttered and thousands of people lost jobs.

This year's increased production will support more than 31,000 jobs -- up from fewer than 13,000 last year -- while generating at least $3 billion in GDP and $628 million in federal, state and local tax revenues, according to a recent economic study conducted by Cardno-Entrix.