Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cantor Opposes Natural-gas Vehicles bill, Dimming Prospects

The Senate is actually considering their version of the NATGAS Act today, as an amendment (Burr/Menendez) to the Highway Bill.
From The Hill's e2 wire:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Thursday that he opposes legislation that would provide tax credits to spur transition to using natural-gas fuel in heavy trucking fleets, dealing a strong blow to the bill’s prospects.

“I am not supportive of the Nat Gas Act,” Cantor, referring to the bill’s title, told E2 in the Capitol. “I think the policy behind that is Washington again picking winners and losers.”

The Senate will vote as soon as Thursday on an amendment to transportation legislation that’s aimed at expanding use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, especially in the oil-thirsty heavy-trucking industry.
Billionaire energy magnate T. Boone Pickens has long waged an aggressive PR campaign in favor of providing billions of dollars in tax credits to spur natural gas-powered trucking.

The idea has a number of Democratic and Republican backers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who co-sponsored legislation the Senate amendment is based on with Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) sponsored a bipartisan House version of the legislation last year.

But Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican, on Thursday called it bad policy.

“Given the situation that we have with the budget and given the fact that natural gas prices are now at least at a 10-year low, I don’t even see the sense in that policy, not to mention just the overall aspect of Washington coming in, picking winners and losers, that’s what we are trying to get away from,” he said.

A suite of conservative groups including Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action (an arm of the Heritage Foundation), the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Freedom Action and the Club for Growth oppose the tax credits, calling the proposal unneeded government meddling into energy markets.

“Natural gas prices are at historically low levels. This means that major companies are already investing in building the infrastructure needed to fuel natural gas vehicles,” the group’s said in a letter to senators this week ahead of the amendment vote.

“The goals of the NAT GAS Act are being achieved by the free market without the additional government involvement mandated by the NAT GAS Act,” the letter states....MORE
Multibillionaires Pickens and Soros stand to score big while the taxpayer could get hammered.
From Motley Fool:
...Under the act, truck owners, from 18-wheelers to light delivery models would receive tax credits running all the way from $7,500 to $65,000 for the conversion of each vehicle to natural gas-burning capability. Further, there's a provision for a $0.50 per gallon credit for natural gas purchases during the next four years, and service stations would become beneficiaries of $100,000 tax credits for adding natural gas dispensing capabilities. According to the Journal, an average tax credit of $15,000 for each of the eight million trucks in the current U.S. fleet would set taxpayers back by more than $100 billion, not the $5 billion in the course of five years that advocates allege....