The natural gas industry – with some financial help from the Corbett Administration – is making a big push to increase the amount of natural gas-fueled vehicles on Pennsylvania’s roadways.The argument in favor of natural gas cars and trucks: the fuel is much cheaper than gasoline and diesel, and emissions are much more environmentally-friendly. The con: there aren’t many places to refuel your vehicle.
Still, experts expect more natural gas-fueled vehicles to hit the roadways in the coming years. With that in mind, a reader asked the Allentown Morning Call whether these cars and trucks – which don’t run on gasoline – pay gas taxes. The answer? They do.
Those who drive compressed natural gas, or CNG, vehicles pay the same highway tax on the fuel they burn as us gasoline-burning warriors, according to industry officials. The rate is derived using a formula that equates the energy value of natural gas with that of gasoline.Measured in BTUs, a gallon of gas equates to 5.66 pounds of CNG, said Richard Kolodziej, president of the advocacy group Natural Gas Vehicles for America. For a sense of how much CNG that represents, standard barbecue grills use 20-pound tanks.
Pennsylvania maps a similar course, applying an energy-equivalency formula, and the state charges a total of 31.2 cents per gallon for gasoline — the sum of the “straight” 12-cent “liquid fuels” tax and the oil-company franchise tax of 19.2 cents per gallon.
StateImpact Pennsylvania compared the commonwealth’s gasoline taxes to other states’ earlier this year:
Pennsylvania levies a 32.3 cent state tax, on top of the 18.4 cent federal rate. That’s good for the fifteenth-highest rate in the county. Of the six states that border Pennsylvania, only New York (49 cents) and West Virginia (33.4 cents) have higher rates.
Pennsylvania’s eastern neighbor, New Jersey, boasts the 48th–lowest gas tax in the country. Only Alaska and Wyoming charge lower per-gallon rates than New Jersey’s 14.5 cents.