Last week, U.S. Rep. Samuel Graves, R-Mo., introduced three bills into the House of Representatives that are aimed at supporting the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the trucking sector. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., is the co-sponsor of all three pieces of legislation.
H.R.3937 would create a task force to investigate how the U.S.' long-haul fleet (trucks 26,000 lbs. GVWR or higher) could be shifted from diesel fuel to natural gas. The group – which would need to be selected within 120 days of the bill's enactment – would comprise representatives from the federal energy and commerce departments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as members of Congress, state governments and the private sector.
The task force's evaluation would need to report to Congress about the following:
- barriers to the transition from diesel fuel to natural gas in long-haul trucks
- environmental benefits of using natural gas in long-haul trucks
- benefits and drawbacks of using natural gas in long-haul trucks
- expected price differential between traditional diesel OEM products and natural gas OEM products
- effects that using natural gas in long-haul trucks could have on the Highway Trust Fund
H.R.3938 would direct the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to designate natural gas fueling corridors for long-haul truck traffic. Within a year of the enactment of the legislation, the DOT would need to report back to Congress with its plans to ‘establish an interconnection of natural gas fueling stations.’ These stations could be no more than 200 miles apart from one another.
Also, H.R.3940Â – the Natural Gas Long Haul Truck Competitiveness Act of 2014 – would create an interstate weight-limit exemption for natural gas vehicles to account for the heavier weight of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage vessels.
‘Utilizing natural gas in the long-haul trucking industry just makes sense,’ Graves said in a press release. ‘These bills, which I'm proud to introduce with my friend Lee Terry, provide the tools necessary to make sure companies looking to use natural gas are not at a disadvantage.’
‘On a recent trip to the Baaken, I witnessed first-hand our abundant supply of natural gas being flared because it's cheaper to burn than it is to capture,’ Terry added. ‘With this plentiful resource, I'm convinced that we can and must expand natural gas use in transportation.’
All three bills have been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. H.R.3937 has also been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.