Three House members plan bill to expand natural gas vehicle use

Legislation to significantly expand the use of natural gas as an alternative to conventional transportation fuel will be introduced, three US House members said on Apr. 1.

Legislation to significantly expand the use of natural gas as an alternative to conventional transportation fuel will be introduced, three US House members said on Apr. 1.

The measure's provisions will include an 18-year extension of three critical tax incentives which focus on gas as a transportation fuel, the purchase of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and the installation of commercial and residential gas refueling pumps, according to Reps. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), John B. Larson (D-Conn.) and John Sullivan (R-Okla.).

Currently, the alternative fuel credit expires at the end of 2009 and the vehicle and refueling pump credits expire at the end of 2010, they noted.

Known as the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act, the bill also would create a new tax credit for automakers which produce natural gas and bi-fueled vehicles, the three federal lawmakers said. Currently, all major automakers manufacture NGVs for overseas markets and this provision is critical to encourage them to begin offering NGVs in the United States, they said.

The bill also would require that at least 50% of new vehicles placed into service by the federal government be capable of operating on compressed or liquid natural gas by the end of 2014, they added. The legislation also would provide grants for light and heavy-duty gas vehicle and engine development, they said.

"We are at a crossroads, and the decisions we make today in Congress will determine the stability of our future energy industry, our domestic supply and the daily cost of energy for millions of consumers and businesses across the nation. With natural gas vehicles, we have a real opportunity to establish a cleaner, cheaper fuel alternative that will provide an independent energy future for America," said Boren, who has introduced similar bills in the past.

Energy investor T. Boone Pickens applauded the measure. "America's national and economic security depends on moving off foreign oil as quickly as possible. Natural gas is the cleanest, most abundant, most economic fuel to replace imported diesel fuel. The US has enough natural gas to last more than 118 years; we should turn to it as an immediately replacement for foreign oil in fleets and heavy-duty vehicles," he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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