Legislation proposed last year to wean Americans off foreign oil is still waiting for action by Congress. The NAT Gas Act (New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act) would give truck buyers up to $64,000 per vehicle for the purchase of natural gas–fueled vehicles (NGVs), along with other financial incentives. While the acronym may be a bit awkward, the intention is clear and straight-forward.

According to Jeffery Clarke, general counsel, director of regulatory affairs for NGVAmerica, if passed, the bill would provide income tax credits for conversions, repowers or the purchase of new, dedicated natural gas vehicles equal to 50% of the incremental cost plus an additional 30% if the vehicle meets certain, tighter emissions standards. The maximum credit for a dedicated NGV vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 lbs. or higher would be $64,000. The credit for bi-fuel vehicles would top out at $40,000.

The bill would also extend by ten years or more the 50-cent per gasoline-gallon-equivalent excise tax credit and provide credits for the construction of natural gas fueling stations. Additional incentives are also possible. Clarke provided an update on the NAT Gas Act during the recent National NGV Fleet Summit presented by Clean Energy in Louisville, KY last month.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill have bi-partisan support. HR 1835, as the measure is known in the House, was introduced about a year ago on April 1, 2009, by Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), John Larson (D- CT) and John Sullivan (R-OK). The Senate version, SR 1408, was authored by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Harry Reid (D-NV). More than 120 other members of Congress likewise support the proposed legislation.

T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management, best-selling author, energy advisor to U.S. presidents and winner of dozens of awards for his achievements, also lent his support to passage of the NAT Gas Act during his keynote presentation at the National NGV Fleet Summit.

“If you don’t have an energy plan, you do,” he noted. “It is foreign oil. That is the way it is going to come down. At least with natural gas, you have an option. You may not like that plan, but it is a plan.”

Pickens, who will be 82 years old in May, has been supporting natural gas as the path to an energy independent future since 1988.