A package of bills currently making its way through the state legislature would provide millions of dollars of tax breaks to promote the use of Pennsylvania’s shale gas for transportation purposes.
Nine bills are part of the “Marcellus Works” package sponsored by House Republicans. The measures include tax credits, grants, and loan programs to incentivize the use of natural gas in vehicles for mass transit agencies, local governments, and private companies:
House Bill 301: Provides $25 million in annual tax credits for private vehicle fleets to mitigate the cost of converting them to run on natural gas
House Bill 302: Creates $5 million grant program to support smaller mass transit agencies in transition to natural gas buses
House Bill 303: Creates a $7.5 million revolving loan program for large mass transit agencies to transition to natural gas buses
House Bill 304: Provides requirements for large mass transit agencies purchasing new buses to buy buses that run on natural gas. By the year 2028, all new buses must run on natural gas
House Bill 305: Creates a $5 million annual “natural gas corridor” tax credit to promote the construction of natural gas fueling stations along major travel corridors. (Right now, there are only 18 natural gas fueling stations open to the public in Pennsylvania)
House Bill 306: Provides $6 million in annual grants to help cover costs of buying natural gas vehicles for taxi companies, school districts, local governments, nonprofits and businesses
House Bill 307: Exempts natural gas vehicles from California Air Resources Board (CARB) air emission certification requirements. Vehicles will still be required to meet EPA emissions standards
House Bill 308: Provides $6 million in annual “Keystone Vehicle Grants” to promote the purchase of natural gas vehicle fleets
House Bill 309: Provides $30 million in annual tax credits to provide incentives for companies to buy heavy-duty of natural gas vehicles
The House will take up three of the bills today. The rest will be voted on next week.
House Majority Whip Stan Saylor (R- York County) is sponsoring several of the proposals.
“This package is not corporate welfare,” he says. “[Natural gas] helps us get off foreign oil. It’s a money-saving process, and it cleans up the air. Is it going to solve climate change? No. But it cleans up the air pollution.”
Saylor says he expects some bipartisan support, but not every Democrat is convinced the tax breaks are needed.
“I will vote against it,” says Rep. Phyllis Mundy (D- Luzerne County) “The natural gas industry is wealthy enough to promote their own activities.”