Although the majority of the attention in Washington and Congress recently is focused on resolving the debate on the debt limit and budget, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today reported out several bills. Two of those bills are of particular interest to the propane industry in general and the autogas sector specifically. The first, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2011 (S.734) was originally introduced by Senator Stabenow (D-MI). This bill would authorize appropriations to the Secretary of Energy for research, development, demonstration and commercial applications of vehicles and related technologies for fiscal years 2012-2016. These programs would include propane powered vehicles. While the original version of this bill did not include propane, NPGA successfully worked with the offices of both Senator Stabenow and Senator Murkowski to insure bipartisan support for the inclusion of propane powered vehicles in this bill.
The second bill considered and reported out of the committee today is a bill by Senator Wyden (D-OR), the Alternative Fuel Vehicles Competitiveness and Energy Security Act of 2001 (S. 1001). This bill adopts definitions of alternative fuel vehicles that will apply to all alternative fuels and to a broad universe of vehicle types -- encompassing compressed natural gas, propane, biofuels and hydrogen. It also defines alternative fuel vehicles with reference to existing IRS definitions for new alternative fuel vehicles, mixed-fuel vehicles and electric vehicles, but adds an additional definition for non-road vehicles to include vehicles used for industrial, farming, commercial, rail, airport and marine purposes.
While the energy agenda in Congress remains uncertain for this year, these bills help send a positive message that propane is an important and useful alternative fuel that should be considered as part of any efforts in Congress to advance the use of alternative fuels in the United States.
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