Standing next to a refueling pump with a price of $1.25 a gas gallon equivalent (GGE), Matheson said bipartisan legislation moving in Congress would give Utah consumers less pain at the pump, less dependence on foreign oil, more energy jobs and a cleaner environment. Matheson, representatives of numerous alternative energy businesses and a director of Utah Clean Cities held a news conference today to provide information about HR 1380 --the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions, or NAT GAS Act of 2011. Matheson is one of 157 bipartisan cosponsors in the House; Senator Orrin Hatch is a cosponsor of the Senate version.
"With gas prices climbing above $4 in some parts of Utah, options for powering our vehicles are critical. Utah is leading the way in price and refueling opportunities for natural gas vehicles (NGVs). I'm hopeful that momentum behind a bipartisan bill I support will soon make the NGV even more affordable," said Matheson.
Matheson said the bill paves the way for Utahns to change how they power their vehicles by encouraging private investment in natural gas refueling stations and by providing incentives for the production and purchase of NGVs. The legislation includes an extension of the current tax credit on natural gas fuel, a new tax credit for production of natural gas vehicles and a tax credit for installing natural gas refueling stations.
Matheson said as on-the-shelf technology, there are currently over 12 and a half million natural gas vehicles in use worldwide. In fact, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler currently produce a number of models for purchase overseas, yet there are fewer than 150,000 natural gas vehicles in the U.S. In Utah, Honda sells NGVs and GM will soon be shipping a domestic model.
"The U.S. has enough natural gas reserves to last us at least 118 years. By diversifying our vehicle fleets, and using natural gas as a transportation fuel, we can significantly reduce our demand for foreign oil, and do so immediately," said Matheson.
Along with cost benefits to consumers and a boost for jobs and the economy, Matheson said natural gas is a much cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline, producing roughly 95% less overall toxics than gas and diesel vehicles.
Matheson credited the partnership between Utah Clean Cities, Questar, CH4 Energy, local car dealerships and vehicle modification businesses with giving Utah a significant lead in availability of NGVs. He noted that Utah has--on a per capita basis--more natural gas refueling stations than any state in the country.
"Utah consumers deserve options now. In the near-term, natural gas is the best alternative to imported oil--one that can be put in place virtually overnight, with the support of this country behind it. That is why I'm fighting to move this common sense legislation through Congress and I am confident it will succeed," said Matheson.