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Natural Gas Vehicles: A Bipartisan Solution

Allison Cunningham, NGVAmerica’s Director, Federal Government Affairs, recently contributed to ACT News with an article covering the federal policy landscape and the benefits and opportunities of natural gas vehicles:

Though many headlines coming out of Washington paint our country and our Congress as more divided than ever before, several recently-introduced bills for NGVs provide hope for bipartisan solutions to shared problems.

H.R. 5959, the Natural Gas Parity Act, was introduced by Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Congressman John Larson (D-CT). The bill aims to ensure parity for natural gas and natural gas vehicles within federal treatment.

S.3226, the Light-Duty Natural Gas Vehicle Parity Act of 2018, was introduced by Senator John Inhofe (R-OK), with a House companion introduced by Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH).

These bicameral and bipartisan bills demonstrate something NGV and clean transportation industry insiders have known for a long time: NGVs provide cleaner emissions, use American-made technology, enhance our energy independence, and insulate fleets and customers from high or fluctuating fuel costs.


Natural Gas Vehicles Ensured Parity with H.R. 5959

H.R. 5959, the Natural Gas Parity Act, includes policies that are much-needed if NGVs are to compete on an even playing field with other clean and emerging transportation fuels.

The bill includes the below provisions:

  • A five-year extension of the $0.50/gallon Alternative Fuels Tax Credit
  • Partial exclusion from excise tax imposed on heavy trucks sold at retail for alternative fuel trucks
  • An income tax credit for new qualified natural gas motor vehicles
  • A five-year extension and increase of the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit
  • Adjustment to the tax treatment for liquefied natural gas equivalent for purposes of Inland Waterways Trust Fund financing rate
  • Increase federal acquisition of natural gas vehicles
  • Funds research, development, and demonstration of natural gas vehicles
  • Provides funding for Clean Cities Program deployment grants
  • Directs environmental settlement funds applied toward DERA grants to be used for natural gas vehicles
  • Directs the U.S. EPA to include incentives in the SmartWay Program for trucks that use alternative fuel and renewable fuel
  • Provides for legislation encouraging public works and construction projects to prioritize proposals from businesses that use natural gas vehicles

Notably, many of the provisions in this bill support all alternative transportation fuels and are not natural gas specific. The $0.50/gallon Alternative Fuels Tax Credit applies to natural gas as well as liquefied petroleum gas, P Series Fuels, liquefied hydrogen and others. The five-year extension and increased alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit also applies to a range of clean transportation fuels, including electric vehicles, propane, and hydrogen fuel stations. Clean Cities funding, the Diesel Emission Reduction Act, and SmartWay Program for trucks have long been broadly-supported clean air and clean transportation programs.


Light-duty Sector NGVs the Focus of S. 3225

Similarly, S.3226, the Light-Duty Natural Gas Vehicle Parity Act of 2018, requires EPA to adjust regulations and policies to ensure that at a minimum the compliance and incentives provided for EVs are also provided for NGVs.  EPA would also be required to ensure that fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards do not impose eligibility requirements in order for NGVs to take credit for their full emissions benefit. Timing of this bill is crucial, as the Administration has been working on and continues to work on updated emissions standards for light-duty vehicles.

Both of these bills are crucial not just because they provide more avenues for the deployment of cleaner alternative fueled vehicles, they also signal that Congress values deployment of these vehicles, and that this support is bipartisan in nature.


NGVs Bring Many Benefits

Deployment of more NGVs results in the creation of new, well-paying middle-class jobs, and spurs much-needed private sector investment in infrastructure, component parts, manufacturing and equipment. Increased NGV deployment also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, NOx emissions, and reduces overall public health costs. Utilizing more natural gas in transportation enhances our energy independence without causing price increases in other natural gas applications.

Natural gas is our nation’s most clean, abundant natural resource. Natural gas in electric-generation and home heating has increased access to clean-burning affordable energy in America while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas powers American homes, businesses, and our economy. With these two bills, Congress now demonstrates what we have known for a long time: NGVs are a bipartisan solution to many challenges facing our country.

NGVAmerica will continue to work with Members of Congress in the House and Senate, from both parties, in order to further the Natural Gas Parity Act and the Light-Duty Natural Gas Vehicle Parity Act of 2018. We hope you will join us in these efforts; our air quality, our energy independence, and our economy only stand to benefit from more NGVs.