Legislation to Boost Natural Gas Usage Praised

Oklahoma State House Speaker Chris Benge praises two Oklahoma congressmen for filing the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2009 and urged its swift passage.
The legislation, authored by Reps. Dan Boren and John Sullivan, seeks to reduce America’s dependence on volatile foreign oil through the increased use of domestic natural gas for transportation.
“I have talked extensively at the state level about needing a state and federal energy plan to lower our country’s dependence on oil from hostile countries,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “Oklahoma has a real chance to lead the way in the development of alternative fuels, especially with local natural gas production.
“Our efforts at the state level compliment the efforts of Reps. Boren and Sullivan and together I know we can ensure that Oklahoma remains a national energy leader.”
According to the press release issued by Rep. Sullivan, H.R. 1835 includes an 18-year extension of three critical tax incentives that focus on natural gas as a transportation fuel, the purchase of natural gas-fueled vehicles (NGVs), and the installation of commercial and residential natural gas refueling pumps.
A new tax credit is also created in the bill for auto manufacturers that produce natural gas and bi-fuel vehicles. All major auto-manufacturers currently make NGVs for overseas markets, and this incentive is critical to begin offering these vehicles in the U.S. market.
The NAT GAS Act also would require that by the end of 2014 at least 50 percent of the new vehicles purchased and placed into service by the federal government to be capable of operating on compressed or liquid natural gas.
Finally, the legislation would provide grants for light and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle and engine development.
This legislative session, Speaker Benge has filed several bills to further encourage the use of Oklahoma natural gas for transportation fuel.
House Bill 1949 extends an existing tax credit on the purchase of a qualified clean-burning motor vehicle for five years for compressed and liquefied natural gas and electric cars.
House Bill 1952 would allow DCS to provide fleet services to schools, county and municipal governments and provide public access to alternative fueling infrastructure in underserved areas unless a private provider locates within five miles.
The bill also amends the “State Fleet Management Fund” to allow money from the fund to be used to build alternative fueling infrastructure or to acquire alternative fuel vehicles for use by state agencies or to lease to political subdivisions.
Finally, HB 1952 would repeal cost-prohibitive California Air Resources Board emission limits, and instead defer to emissions standards put in place by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. This change will make conversions easier and less cost-prohibitive but would still keep federal standards in place on all conversion kits.
Both bills have passed the House and are currently under consideration in the state Senate.
“All of these bills serve to incentivize the private market to move forward with this technology, and shows a commitment to moving away from foreign oil to domestically-created energy sources like natural gas,” said Benge. “We must continue to push the issue at every level of government until we are successful.”

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