Driving Indiana towards energy independence
The world has changed a lot over the last few decades, and one of the biggest changes has been how we consume fuel in getting to where we need to go. The United State has a vast supply of oil, but our demand exceeds our supply. This increases the need for strong trade relationships with other countries and for alternative (and domestic) fuel sources to avoid putting all our eggs in one basket. As the demand for cleaner, yet still efficient and effective, fuel sources increases, Indiana is at the front of the pack, working to find new and innovative ways to access alternative fuel sources.
A step we were able to take this past session was passing House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1324, a piece of legislation focused on promoting compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel source for vehicles, especially commercial trucking fleets. I coauthored the bill, and I believe that it will positively impact our economy because of the affordability, productivity and environmentally-friendly output of this product.
The new law incentivizes companies to build CNG fuel stations around Indiana. Numerous studies found that most Hoosiers would be more willing to have their vehicles run on compressed natural gas if the fuel was more easily accessible. I did some of my own research to make sure I was supporting a fuel that made sense for our state, and I found a lot of positive information.
CNG is a viable fuel source that is available in America’s domestically drilled natural gas wells or in conjunction with crude oil production, according to the EPA. Currently, 70 percent of the oil consumed by the U.S. is imported, so having a wider availability of different, domestic fuel sources will strengthen our state and country’s fuel independence.
In looking at the cost of switching to CNG, it is substantially cheaper that gasoline. The average savings in using natural gas is approximately $1.50 or more per gallon when compared to oil-based fuels. Numerous Indiana companies have already begun developing and manufacturing natural gas vehicles and components used in natural gas vehicles. Giving Hoosiers greater access to CNG will help Indiana’s business grow and thrive here in our state.
In an effort to increase the use of CNG in Indiana, HEA 1324 provides a three year income tax credit for using a natural gas powered vehicle that weighs over 33,000 pounds. The maximum weight limit for a vehicle that uses natural gas as a motor fuel will be increased by 2,000 pounds. It also creates an interim study committee to examine the issues concerning the imposition of road impact fees on users of plug in, plug in hybrid and hybrid vehicles. Along with that, HEA 1324 provides incentives through a refundable Road Tax Credit to a carrier that uses CNG to fuel large trucks.
Indiana has the opportunity to become a leader in the fuels of the future, fuels that will drive America’s economy now and in the future. CNG is a fuel source that isn't only domestic, but right in our back yard. We have the ability to collect CNG from areas in Southwestern Indiana, employing hard working Hoosiers from our community. Legislation like HEA 1324 will give us a leg up on the surrounding competition, bringing in more businesses and jobs for Hoosiers.