U.S. Rep. John B. Larson announced Monday that he will be reintroducing a bill to provide incentives to expanding natural gas use in the transportation sector, something he said would help solve America’s addiction to foreign oil.
The bill, the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act, would offer tax incentives to auto manufacturers who build vehicles that run on natural gas. Larson said encouraging natural gas use in transportation makes sense because of what he called “the three A’s”—It’s abundant, accessible and American.
“We have the opportunity, because of the finds that we have in this country, to have America be to natural gas what Saudi Arabia is to oil,” he said.
Given recent crises like the one in Libya, Larson said it’s more evident than ever how dependence on foreign oil impacts Americans at the pump. He referenced former President George W. Bush, who in 2006 said the country was “addicted to oil.” With only 4 percent of the world’s population and 2 percent of its oil resources, the U.S. consumes a disproportionate 24 percent of its oil, he said.
The connection between troop deployment and oil is also not lost on Americans, he said. But the natural gas bill is one way to wean ourselves off that addiction, Larson said.
And it could benefit the environment as well, he said. One 18-wheel tractor trailer truck powered by natural gas is equivalent to removing the road pollution of 300 vehicles, he said.
The bill is expected to be raised in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate this week or early next week and as it is Larson has some unlikely partners supporting it. U.S. Reps. John Sullivan, R-OK, Kevin Brady, R-TX, and Dan Boren, D-OK, are all co-sponsors of the bill.
He also said that he expects the support of the rest of Connecticut’s delegation, who supported similar previous efforts.
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut Executive Director Margaret Miner said that while the organization wasn’t taking a specific stance on Larson’s proposal, they support the use of natural gas in transportation. It’s a nice, clean burning fuel that is superior to other fossil fuels, she said.
But she also noted that fracking, a process sometimes used to recover natural gas from the ground, is destructive to water quality and requires better regulations.
On Monday Larson said that if there is opposition to his bill he expects it will likely have to do with fracking. But he said the measure really has nothing to do with that process.
“This is about tax incentives,” he said.
Though Congress is currently in recess, Larson is expected to propose the bill within the next two weeks.
Connecticut currently has 14 natural gas pumping stations with three more in the works, according Larson’s spokesperson. There are now around 250 natural gas powered vehicles on Connecticut roads, including many in AT&T’s fleet of vehicles, he said.