A legislator in the Pennsylvania General Assembly has introduced a bill designed to encourage the use of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and the construction of fueling stations to support them within the state that his home to the heart of the Marcellus Shale.

Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York) said his bill, HB 2251, would allocate a portion of the state’s Clean Air Fund for grants to industry as an incentive for them to convert commercial fleet vehicles to natural gas. He predicted that the state’s network of compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations would expand to keep pace with the additional NGVs on the road.

“This legislation will move us away from our dependency on foreign oil, stimulate the economy, and clean up our environment,” Saylor said Tuesday. “The need for a national energy policy has never been so prevalent, and this legislation will enable Pennsylvania to show America how to do it.”

Saylor’s office added that consumers would benefit from industry’s shift to NGVs. “Detroit is presently producing bi-fuel natural gas vehicles for consumers and the only thing standing in a family’s way of purchasing these clean-burning, fuel-efficient machines are enough fueling stations to make them practical.”

The legislator’s office also said further adoption of NGVs would lower the cost of doing business in the state and create jobs, especially at companies in the NGV fueling industry. The office specifically mentioned:

Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of trying to convince industry and the public to adopt NGVs. HB 1950 became law and was renamed Act 13 of 2012 after Gov. Tom Corbett signed it in February (see Shale Daily, Feb. 15). The new law establishes a Natural Gas Energy Development Program to provide incentives for converting fleet vehicles, especially mass transit, to natural gas.

Last year the state Department of Environmental Protection released a document outlining how vehicles could be converted to run on natural gas while satisfying emission standards (see Shale Daily, Dec. 5, 2011). The state’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission (MSAC) also recommended that “green corridors” with natural gas filling stations be established along the major highways traversing Pennsylvania (see Shale Daily, July 26, 2011). But a legislative package designed to expand natural gas use — including another bill sponsored by Saylor (HB 1083) that would have offered a natural gas fleet vehicle tax credit — stalled in committee (see Shale Daily, April 7, 2011).

The adoption of NGVs has also entered the national discussion as of late, with the U.S. Senate considering — but ultimately defeating on Tuesday — an amendment to its two-year, $109 billion transportation bill that would have subsidized purchasers of NGVs and manufacturers of both NGVs and their supportive fueling stations.

Despite the legislative setback, last week both GM and Chrysler introduced new natural-gas powered pickup trucks, and GE and Chesapeake Energy Corp. touted a new “CNG In A Box” fueling station. American Honda Motor Co., which claims to be the only automaker selling natural-gas powered passenger cars in the U.S., also announced it would begin installing CNG fuel pumps at some of its dealerships.

President Obama also mentioned NGVs during his speech promoting the National Community Deployment Challenge, a $1 billion effort to jumpstart the deployment of vehicles powered by alternative fuels.