Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and John Larson (D-CT) introduced legislation Thursday designed to bring parity and encourage the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.
House Resolution (HR) 5959, aka the Natural Gas Parity Act, was immediately referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. It was also sent to three additional committees -- Oversight and Government Reform; Energy and Commerce; and Science, Space and Technology -- for a period of time to be determined by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). The latter three committees are to consider which provisions of HR 5959 fall within their jurisdictions.
"Under current laws and regulations, alternative fuel sources enjoy federal subsidies that cut down on production costs while clean, natural gas shoulders a greater financial burden," said Mullin. "The federal government should not be picking winners and losers in the energy industry, but instead should allow consumers and accessibility to drive demand."
Larson concurred, adding that the bill "will reduce pollution, spur investment in alternative fuel sources, and bolster our national security by enhancing energy independence."
According to NGVAmerica, which lobbies in support of the use of natural gas vehicles (NGV), HR 5959 calls for extending the expired Alternative Fuels Tax Credit of 50 cents per gallon equivalent through 2022. The bill would also bring parity to the purchase of NGVs by placing them on par with the federal government's $7,500 tax credit for light-duty electric vehicles, and would include a new tax credit for medium- and heavy-duty trucks fueled by natural gas.
Under HR 5959, the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Infrastructure Tax Credit would be extended and increased, thereby encouraging the construction of more natural gas fueling stations. The bill would also provide a partial exclusion from federal excise taxes on heavy-duty natural gas truck purchases.
Other provisions include encouraging the use of liquefied natural gas for marine and shipping applications on the nation's inland waterways; supporting the transition of federal fleets to alternative fuels, including natural gas; encouraging investment in research and development for gas use as a fuel; and "supporting local clean air and climate change community efforts across the country," NGVAmerica said.
"Current federal incentives and regulatory rules do not encourage the use of super clean and efficient natural gas for transportation," said NGVAmerica President Dan Gage. "As the movement of goods and freight continues to dominate our economy, if we want cleaner air, we need cleaner trucks, cleaner locomotives, and cleaner ships."