Legislation Would Make it Easier for Companies to Transport Freight with Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles
Today, U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced bipartisan legislation that would create a more level playing field for American companies transporting freight in natural gas-powered vehicles across the country. The Natural Gas Long Haul Truck Competitiveness Act of 2014 (S. 2721) would establish a uniform federal standard for all natural gas-powered vehicles carrying freight across the country, eliminating a significant barrier that currently exists for many businesses that rely on natural gas powered vehicles.
Donnelly said, "Supporting natural gas-powered vehicles is a part of the all-in approach to American energy that we need. 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."
Inhofe said, "Natural gas is a clean and affordable domestic energy resource that has the potential to drive American energy independence to reality. The additional weight of natural gas fueling systems eats into the total the trucks are allowed to weigh 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 Sen. Joe Donnelly on this bipartisan bill that recognizes the vast potential of natural gas for powering the next generation of vehicles."
Gary Langston, President of Indiana Motor Truck Association, said, "The Indiana Motor Truck Association appreciates the bi-partisan efforts of Senators Donnelly and Inhofe on this important issue. The proposed additional weight allowance will encourage increased use of clean burning natural gas within the trucking industry, will protect the integrity of our payloads, and will continue to address Americas need for reduced dependence on foreign oil. "
Dave Crompton, President of Cummins' Engine Business, said, "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. 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."
Frank Macchiarola, Executive Vice President for Government Affairs of America's Natural Gas Alliance, said, "We applaud the bipartisan efforts of Sens. Inhofe and Donnelly to encourage the adoption of natural gas fueled 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."
Rich Kolodziej, President of NGVAmerica, said, "NGVAmerica applauds Sens. Jim Inhofe and Joe Donnelly for their legislation to allow natural gas trucks to exceed federal weight limitations when operating on the Interstate Highway Systems. 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. 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. Legislation such as this will help accelerate the growth of the NGV market and provide our country with the environmental benefits and greater energy independence that comes with using clean domestic natural gas as a vehicle fuel."
Bill Graves, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Trucking Associations, said, "Natural gas holds great promise for our industry and our economy, and as such, we applaud the efforts of Sen. Inhofe and Sen. Donnelly to look for solutions to the challenge of realizing this promise. 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."
Dr. Kathryn Clay, Vice President of Policy Strategy at the American Gas Association, said, "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 U.S. Treasury. 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."
The Donnelly-Inhofe bill would create a uniform federal standard, improving upon the current patchwork system where states have different carrying standards and guidelines. Vehicles with natural gas tanks and fueling systems are typically 2,000 pounds heavier than their diesel counterparts, which forces natural gas-powered vehicles to carry equally lighter loads of freight to comply with current federal standards. States currently have different standards and requirements, so it is possible for companies in states like Indiana to do intrastate business, but it can be extremely difficult to conduct interstate commerce. As a result, there's a disincentive for businesses to operate trucks powered by natural gas. The Donnelly-Inhofe bill seeks to remove barriers for business and incentivize greater adoption of natural gas an as alternative fuel source.