Natural gas as a transportation fuel has much to gain from the initial version of the current U.S. Senate energy bill introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and a similar House version, according to a California-based marketer of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) used for transportation.

Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which also develops and operates CNG/LNG transportation fueling infrastructure, said the gas transportation sector stands to gain. The latest Congressional proposal could be the framework for a national gas fueling network, according to Clean Energy, which envisions as many as 400 LNG fueling stations and more than 1,000 CNG/LNG multi-use stations in urban centers.

Lauding Congress for the current energy bill version, Clean Energy CEO Andrew Littlefair said as it stands now, the bill will help fund NGV purchases, particularly heavy-duty trucks, along with supporting gas fueling infrastructure growth nationally. “And it would provide loans to support domestic manufacturing of alternative fuel vehicles,” Littlefair said.

Clean Energy likes the $3.8 billion being proposed for vehicle purchase rebates (75% heavy duty), with as many as 200,000 alternative fuel vehicles being placed in service. By its calculation that could displace up to 1.8 billion gallons of petroleum annually.

“Additionally, at least $500 million is proposed for fueling infrastructure development and $2 billion for manufacturing loan programs,” said Littlefair, adding that an offshoot of the bill could be more than 500,000 new direct manufacturing and labor jobs and other indirect jobs.

In a House version, Clan Energy said vehicle purchase tax credits are proposed for heavy-duty gas vehicles, per-gallon tax credits for natural gas fuel are reinstate for 2010 and through 2011, and investment tax credits would encourage domestic manufacturing jobs, particularly those related to clean energy technologies.

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