A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday, if passed, will provide significant inventive for the purchase and use of natural gas and natural gas vehicles. “New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions” Act (HR 1380), dubbed “NAT GAS” for short, is intended to provide financial benefits for users of natural gas as a vehicle fuel. This includes tax credits for the purchase of such vehicles, for retrofitting diesel or gasoline vehicles; for the purchase of natural gas; and for the building of fueling stations, including home refueling units.

Specifically, the bill would provide:

  • A tax credit of up to 80% of the incremental cost of buying a natural gas vehicle, with the maximum value ranging from $7,500 for a light-duty passenger vehicle up to $64,000 for commercial vehicles over 26,000 lbs. GVWR. Conversion of a new or used vehicle to operate on natural gas would also be eligible for this vehicle purchase credit.
  • A 50-cent per gallon fuel tax credit.
  • An infrastructure tax credit of 50% of the cost of building a fueling station—up to a maximum of $100,000 per station. A credit of $2,000 would also be available to individuals installing home refueling units.

NGVAmerica was quick to offer its support of the new natural gas bill. In a statement also issued yesterday, Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica, said, “This comprehensive legislation is driven by the need for America to quickly reduce its dependence on foreign oil while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gases and urban pollution. We commend Representatives Sullivan, Boren, Larson, and Brady for recognizing that it will take real commitment at the national level to move our country off our addiction to oil quickly.”

After defeat of an earlier version of the bill last year, the sponsors of HR 1380 expressed optimism about the successful transit of NAT GAS through the House this session and (albeit with a little less confidence) optimism that the Senate would support the measure, as well. In a press call, all four sponsors (Representatives John Sullivan (R-OK), Dan Boren (D-OK) John Larson (D-CT) and Kevin Brady (R-TX)) offered their perspectives on the bill and its potential to change America’s energy policy and its future.

Sullivan, who hosted the call, explained that the measure is a “targeted, five-year, jump-start plan” that will provide the framework, fueling infrastructure and economies of scale to make natural gas what the sponsors called “a second vehicle fuel.”

Larson stressed the bi-partisan support for the bill, noting that it shows what “can be done when we work together.” He called the bill “important” and said that it affects energy, the environment, the economy and even America foreign policy, adding that natural gas is “abundant, affordable and American. We have a more than 100-year supply of natural gas in America,” he said.

“The bill makes great sense,” noted Brady. “Our gas prices are going up and our energy security is going down…We want companies to feel comfortable making the investment [in natural gas vehicles].”

Boren called the resolution a “game-changer bill” and noted that the measure “has the best chance of passing in this Congress. It is truly a bi-partisan bill.” He also stressed that it will help to create jobs. “It is a real important piece of legislation,” he said. “It will change how we live and how our children and grandchildren will live.”

T. Boone Pickens, author of the “Pickens Plan,” and long-time advocate for natural gas, was a special guest speaker at the press call. On his way to make two speeches supporting the measure, Pickens voiced his unflagging support for natural gas. “Listen, you guys stated everything very clearly,” he said. “This will be the first step…You will see in five years that this bill will have an impact globally.” He also observed that purchasing so much oil from Arab states puts America in the position of “funding both sides of the war in the Middle East.”