WATCH: Senator Inhofe's Floor Speech on Natural Gas
WASHINGTON - Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., today joined Reps. Dan Boren, D-Okla., and Rep. Heath Shuler., D-N.C., in announcing the introduction of the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act. This legislation seeks to simplify and streamline the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions certification process for aftermarket fuel conversion systems.
The bill addresses the need to overhaul the EPA emission certification process, which effectively prohibits car owners from legally converting a car to a bi-fuel operation. Bi-fuel operation allows a car to switch back and forth from either gasoline or an alternative fuel such as propane or natural gas.
"A year ago our country was in the midst of an energy crisis. Mississippians were paying nearly four dollars for a gallon of gasoline and utility bills were skyrocketing. Our energy problems have not gone away, and the early signs of a similar situation are already resurfacing," said Sen. Wicker. "We need to make it easier for people to find relief from high and often unstable gas prices by using technology and alternative fuels. This bill will remove some cumbersome hurdles from that process."
Sen. Inhofe said, "Our bill makes critical changes so that vehicle conversions can become a commonplace option for all Americans. By simplifying this compliance process, we will not only incentivize conversion manufacturers to offer more systems for additional vehicle makes and models, but will eventually reduce the costs of these conversion systems for interested car owners - perhaps by hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Ultimately, this legislation will allow Americans to choose whether propane or natural gas powered vehicles are right for their own individual and business needs while simultaneously preserving the country's stringent emission standards. The promise of natural gas and propane as mainstream transportation fuels is achievable today, not 15 or 20 years from now, and this bill will help make that happen."
Rep. Boren said, "There is growing momentum for the increased use of natural gas as a cheaper, cleaner, and domestically abundant alternative to traditional transportation fuel from foreign sources. This legislation would clear many of the regulatory hurdles that hinder the conversion of public and private fleets to natural gas technology. These conversions present a real opportunity for communities, tribes, and other organizations, to lower transportation costs, cut harmful emissions, and reduce our nation's reliance on foreign oil all while supporting an American-made product. I am honored to join Congressman Heath Shuler on this legislation in the U.S. House, and I thank Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator Roger Wicker for carrying it in the Senate."
"Making it easier to convert vehicles to natural gas or propane will reduce the price of gasoline for all consumers," said Rep. Shuler. "Because America has an abundant supply of natural gas and produces more than 90 percent of the propane we use, this bill represents a commonsense approach to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil."
Support for the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act
NGVAmerica: "Currently, the EPA certification process for natural gas aftermarket conversion systems is cumbersome and unnecessarily costly. This measure would help streamline that certification process and, therefore, bring down the cost of certification. This would mean more certified conversion systems will be on the market for more vehicle models - thereby resulting in more petroleum displaced and lower greenhouse gas and urban pollution produced. We commend Senators Wicker and Inhofe and Congressman Boren and Shuler for their leadership on this issue. NGV America looks forward to working with the Congress to pass this important measure." - Richard Kolodziej, President
American Gas Association: "Natural gas is the cleanest burning alternative transportation fuel available right now. Vehicles powered by natural gas reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 70 percent and nitrogen oxide by nearly 90 percent when compared to most gasoline-powered vehicles. With an abundance of natural gas available right here in the U.S., the development of environmentally-friendly natural gas vehicles is long overdue, and is key to ensuring a cleaner environment for future generations." - David N. Parker, President
National Propane Gas Association: "The National Propane Gas Association and its 3200 member companies located in all 50 states applaud Senators Wicker and Inhofe for introducing the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act, legislation designed to make it easier to convert vehicles to run on propane or natural gas. Propane is a domestically-produced, low-carbon fuel available today at, according to the Department of Energy, 2,500 (and growing) vehicle refueling sites across the country - the largest fueling infrastructure of any alternative fuel. Despite this wide fuel availability, currently there are only 158,000 propane powered vehicles on the road in the United States. Easing EPA vehicle conversion requirements will immediately impact the propane vehicle market by helping to encourage increased availability of propane powered vehicles. It will also provide individual and commercial fleet vehicle customers with a transportation fuel option that is over 90% domestically produced and also emits less CO2 than gasoline." - Richard Roldan, President and CEO
Pickens Plan: "I commend Senators Wicker and Inhofe and Congressmen Shuler and Boren for introducing legislation that will simplify and streamline the EPA certification and compliance process so that converting vehicles to run on alternative fuels like natural gas can be a realistic option for all Americans. Last summer, when gasoline cost over $4 per gallon, Senator Inhofe was the first in Congress to introduce legislation promoting the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Since launching the Pickens Plan to help reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil last July, bipartisan support for expanded use of domestic natural gas has skyrocketed. Natural gas is the only available domestic resource that can immediately replace foreign oil at the pump, and supply is abundant. Americans have every reason to be encouraged that this Congress is making energy independence a top priority." - T. Boone Pickens
Chesapeake Energy: "We appreciate the leadership of Senators Wicker and Inhofe and Congressmen Shuler and Boren in introducing this important legislation to streamline federal regulations for converting vehicles to run on clean-burning, American natural gas and move our country toward reduced foreign energy reliance and a cleaner environment in the near future. Ground-breaking studies continue to confirm an abundance of clean natural gas in America to fuel our vehicles, generate our electricity and run our industrial sector for more than 100 years. Again, this legislation is important to an emerging U.S. natural gas vehicle (NGV) industry, and we look forward to the day when significant numbers of natural gas vehicles are on the road, reducing transportation fuel costs to consumers, helping improve air quality, the American economy and our national security." - Tom Price, Chesapeake Energy Corporation's Senior Vice President for Corporate Development and Government Relations
The Chickasaw Nation: "The Chickasaw Nation made a decision two years ago to migrate their fleet of 600 vehicles to CNG burning systems in order to reduce CO2 emissions, dependency on foreign oil, and vehicle operational costs. This commitment to conversion has been frustrated by unnecessarily rigid and counterproductive regulations by EPA of bi-fuel conversions. Immediate relief from these counterproductive regulations is needed to expedite the achievement of these goals." - Governor Bill Anoatubby
About the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act
(a) Definitions - Defines aftermarket conversion systems and aftermarket test groups.
(b) Certificates of Conformity - States that certificates of conformity issued by EPA shall not expire. Directs EPA to establish criteria for use in identifying similar vehicle makes, models, OEMs, emission standards, and different model years under a single test group.
(c) Carryover Certification for Additional Model Years - Allows the submission of prior years emission and OBD system test data for the certification of other model years if the applicant can demonstrate that neither the aftermarket conversion system nor the vehicle have changed in a way that could affect the compliance of the aftermarket conversion system.
(d) Carry-Across Certification - Directs EPA to promulgate regulations to allow the use of emission and OBD system test data generated from one test group to serve as the basis for certifying additional similar test groups.
(e) Use of Assigned Deterioration Factors - States that aftermarket conversion system manufacturers may use EPA's assigned deterioration factors without regard to sales limits.
(f) Waiver of Certain Testing Requirements - Allows the waiver of emission and non-exhaust emission testing requirements pertaining to the fuel the vehicle was originally certified to run, if the applicant is able to demonstrate that waiving the testing requirement is appropriate.
(g) On-Board Diagnostic Requirements - Directs EPA to promulgate regulations for aftermarket conversion systems applicable to OBD systems to ensure effective emission monitoring, to account for the inability to access proprietary OEM technology, and to ensure sufficient flexibility so as to encourage the use of alternative fuel vehicles.
(h) Older Vehicles - Allows vehicles which are outside their useful life (for light duty is 10 years or 120,000 miles) to be converted if the aftermarket conversion system manufacturer or the converter can demonstrate that the development and engineering sophistication of the conversion technology is matched to an appropriate vehicle and is designed and installed in accordance with good engineering judgment so that emission performance does not degrade, as compared to the emission performance before the conversion. Directs the converter to label that a vehicle has been converted and that the conversion occurred outside the vehicle's useful life. States that nothing in this section precludes the EPA from issuing an order to prohibit the manufacture, distribution, or installation of an aftermarket conversion system, if EPA has evidence that its use degrades emission performance.