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Inhofe, Donnelly introduce NGV bill

LNG Industry,

US Senators Jim Inhofe and Joe Donnelly introduced the Natural Gas Long Haul Truck Competitiveness Act of 2014 (S. 2721) on 31 July. The bill attempts to level the playing field between diesel and natural gas long-haul trucks by permitting them to carry an equal amount of freight. Due to natural gas fuelling systems weighing roughly 2000 pounds more than diesel systems, trucks running on natural gas are forced to carry less freight under current federal weight restrictions.

“Natural gas is a clean and affordable domestic energy resource that has the potential to drive American energy independence to reality,” said Inhofe. “The additional weight of natural gas fuelling systems eats into the total the trucks are allowed to weigh with freight under current federal regulation, leaving it at a disadvantage to its diesel counterpart. This legislation brings the federal regulation for long-haul trucks into the 21st century by giving natural gas powered trucks the ability to compete on the same playing field in the amount of freight it can transport. I am proud to work with Senator Joe Donnelly on this bipartisan bill that recognises the vast potential of natural gas for powering the next generation of vehicles."

Encouraging investment

“Supporting natural gas-powered vehicles is a part of the all-in approach to American energy that we need,” said Donnelly. "While the standards in this bill are currently in place in Indiana, we need to expand them across the country so more companies are encouraged to make the investment in natural gas-powered vehicles. I am pleased to join my colleague, Senator Inhofe, in introducing this bipartisan legislation that would encourage businesses to use natural gas when transporting their freight and products.”

Rich Kolodziej, NGVAmerica’s President, applauded the senators for introducing the bill. “Despite the many positive attributes of natural gas trucks including competitive fuel costs and environmental benefits, there is still a constraint to owning and operating a natural gas vehicle because of the federal rules on highway truck weights,” he said.

Encouraging growth

“The extra weight of natural gas tanks, both CNG and LNG and associated equipment (pumps, hoses etc.), means that a natural gas truck cannot carry the same amount of freight as a diesel truck given the weight limits on Federal highways. This causes a revenue loss of up to 2 - 3% due to reduced payload.” Kolodziej stressed that this type of legislation would expedite the growth of the NGV market, providing eco-friendly solutions and enhanced energy independence.

Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president of Government Affairs at America’s Natural Gas Alliance, was equally congratulatory. “We applaud the bipartisan efforts of Senators Inhofe and Donnelly to encourage the adoption of natural gas fuelled trucks. When considering the many benefits of natural gas, using more of it to power vehicles is the smart business choice. We commend both senators for eliminating policies that discourage the adoption of cleaner burning fuels like natural gas and we look forward to working with them on this common-sense measure.”

“Great promise”

President and chief executive officer of American Trucking Associations Bill Graves also trumpeted the role that natural gas as a fuel could play in the future. "Natural gas holds great promise for our industry and our economy, and as such, we applaud the efforts of Senator Inhofe and Senator Donnelly to look for solutions to the challenge of realising this promise,” he said. "While there are still many details and specifications to address on this complex issue, we look forward to working with them on this important energy and transportation matter.”

“Updating the weight allowance for heavy-duty trucks offers a common sense solution to helping natural gas vehicles compete fairly in the market at no additional cost to the US Treasury,” said Dr. Kathryn Clay, vice president of Policy Strategy at the American Gas Association. "By ensuring that drivers do not need to choose between operating with full payloads or using clean, domestic natural gas, this forward-thinking legislation removes an unfair barrier to natural gas vehicles, and will help drivers save money on fuel costs, lower tailpipe emissions and reduce dependence on oil from unstable nations." "We thank the Senators for introducing this legislation which eliminates a disincentive impeding the adoption of natural gas vehicles in the heavy duty truck industry,” said Dave Crompton, president of Cummins' Engine Business. "We continue to look for different ways to help our customers be as successful as possible and natural gas provides an additional cost-effective alternative for some of them."

Adapted from press release by Ted Monroe

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