Revamped Natural Gas Legislation May See Movement in Ohio Senate

Source: The Alliance Review

COLUMBUS — Two state lawmakers have introduced revamped legislation that would provide tax breaks for the purchase of vehicles that run on compressed natural gas.

Reps. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, and Dave Hall, R-Millersburg, said they have made changes to the proposed law changes, with hopes that the bill will make it through the Ohio Senate this time around. Comparable legislation passed the Ohio House a year ago, but did not move through the other chamber before the end of the session.

The goal of the legislation is to prompt local governments, businesses and consumers to buy new vehicles or convert existing ones to run on natural gas, taking advantage of supplies being tapped in eastern Ohio’s emerging shale oil fields.

“It’s clean for the environment, it’s more energy independent, greater national security — we’re not sending money to countries and organizations that may be sending us terrorists or bombs,” O’Brien said during a rooftop press conference at Clean Fuels Ohio, with the Columbus skyline as a backdrop. “It’s less expensive than traditional fuels. It saves money on auto maintenance, and it’s a job creator.”

Hall added, “Ohio is a dominant energy player in not just the nation, but the world. We need to be able to use our resource, use it properly.”

Last session’s legislation included thousands of dollars in tax breaks to cover new vehicle purchases or conversions. There was also funding earmarked for grants to local governments and nonprofit groups to convert their existing vehicle fleets to compressed natural gas, plus a phased-in motor fuel tax on CNG.

O’Brien said the new legislation includes some changes, including lengthening the motor fuel tax phase-in for compressed natural gas to 10 years from five. The new bill still includes a sunset provision, providing a set period for consumers and others to take advantage of tax breaks.

“We’re not picking winners and losers,” O’Brien said. “We’re just jump-starting it and then letting the industry and the market forces dictate where natural gas goes.”

Backers hope to move the bill through the House before the summer recess.

“Teeing this bill up early, right out of the budget out of the House … we’ll be able to hand this off in plenty enough time for the Senate to work on it,” Hall said.