Tax credit for low-emissions vehicles a wise investment
by Kevin Greiner
March 25, 2014 12:00 AM | 3516 views | 2 2 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Too often, public discourse about our environment dissolves into zero-sum game arguments, with any potential policy change tallied as a win for either “green” advocates or big business. This line of thinking is predicated on a misguided assumption: the interests of these two parties are necessarily at odds.

Fortunately in Georgia, that’s simply not the case. Consider House Bill 348, a common-sense piece of legislation sponsored by State Rep. Don Parsons (R-Marietta) that passed the General Assembly last week with strong bipartisan support.

The legislation establishes tax credits for commercial alternative fuel vehicles purchased in Georgia. That could mean a delivery van powered by natural gas or a service truck that runs on electricity.

The goal is to create meaningful incentives for companies to upgrade their fleets and put more low-emission vehicles on our state’s roads and highways. This legislation also helps us to remain competitive with other states such as Florida and Oklahoma that have enacted laws that have accelerated the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.

Georgia is a transportation hub, and our logistics industry is a major contributor to our economy and jobs. However, motor vehicle exhaust is also one of the largest contributors to poor air quality in Georgia, exacerbating a host of respiratory and circulatory issues, from asthma to heart disease.

The impact is far-reaching: In Cobb alone, more than 15,000 children and nearly 150,000 adults have asthma, according to the American Lung Association. The cost of dirty air is measured in school absences, doctor’s visits, trips to the emergency room and hospital admissions.

Clean energy vehicles that run on natural gas or electricity can help to keep our economy strong while also reducing harmful smog causing emissions by up to 90 percent. They also reduce our reliance on oil imports.

House Bill 348 specifically covers commercial vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as natural gas, electricity, propane or hydrogen. Each of these fuels produce significantly lower emissions than diesel or gasoline, and are derived some domestic sources of energy. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is the most popular alternative fuel for commercial fleets, as it is widely available and significantly less expensive than gasoline or diesel — about $1.50 to $2 less per gallon.

The savings can be substantial. DeKalb County, which recently converted its sanitation fleet to use CNG, estimates it will save $3 million over an eight-year period. Atlanta-based UPS is able to keep its shipping rates low by fueling delivery trucks with CNG.

Not long ago, the idea of plugging in your car or filling the tank with natural gas seemed nothing short of science fiction. But technology has advanced rapidly. CNG stations are now located throughout Georgia, while electric vehicle charging stations are common sights in many parking garages.

Our state legislature and Rep. Parsons in particular, should be applauded for taking steps to encourage the use of alternative fuel sources. It’s a modest investment that promises to pay great dividends down the road in the form of cleaner air, greater energy independence, a stronger economy and healthier lives.

Kevin Greiner is the president and CEO of Gas South, Georgia’s fastest-growing natural gas marketer since 2008. Based in Cobb County, Gas South provides natural gas service to more than 270,000 residential, business and governmental customers in Georgia and Florida.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
March 25, 2014
As the natural gas lobby continues to try to get taxpayers to finance their industry, I suggest people read the recent stories in the NY Times ("Study Finds Methane Leaks Negate Benefits of Natural Gas as a Fuel for Vehicles" 2/13/14) and USA Today ("Natural gas vehicles worse for climate than diesel ones?" 2/14/14) to see how natural gas is a very questionable replacement for clean diesel.

In fact, clean diesel buses make up the majority of all transit buses in cities like New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Chicago.

In addition, an analysis by the Clean Air Task Force compared 2012 CNG to 2012 clean diesel buses, which is significant because the natural gas industry often compares 2012/13 CNG buses to older diesel technology to inflate the CNG environmental advantage. The Clean Air Task Force study compares new diesel buses to new CNG buses.

The reality is new clean diesel technology is very competitive with CNG – in a much more cost-effective manner.

2012 Clean Diesel Bus/2012 CNG Emissions Comparison To 2000 Diesel Bus

Nitrogen Oxide Particulate Matter Hydrocarbon

(NOx) (PM) (HC)

2012 Diesel Bus -94% -98% -89%

2012 CNG Bus -80% -99% -100%

(Source: Clean Air Task Force - "Clean Diesel versus CNG Buses: Cost, Air Quality, & Climate Impacts")

The analysis: "Both new diesel and new CNG buses have significantly lower emissions of NOx, PM, and HC than the older diesel buses that they replace. According to EPA's MOVES emissions model a 2012 model year diesel bus emits 94% less NOx per mile, 98% less PM, and 89% less HC than a model year 2000 (12-year old) diesel bus. A model year 2012 CNG bus emits 80% less NOx, 99% less PM, and 100% less HC than a model year 2000 diesel bus.

Emissions Reductions Per 10 Replacement Buses (compared to 2000 diesel buses)

Nitrogen Oxide Particulate Matter Hydrocarbon

2012 Diesel -4,953 kg -275 kg -429 kg

2012 CNG -4,197 kg -279 kg -471 kg

"Replacing 10 older diesel buses with new diesel buses will reduce annual NOx, PM, and HC emissions by 4,953 kg, 275 kg, and 421 kg respectively. Replacing 10 older diesel buses with new CNG buses will reduce annual NOx, PM, and HC emissions 4,197 kg, 279 kg, and 471 kg respectively. On a per-bus basis new CNG buses provide slightly greater PM and HC reductions, but lower NOx reductions,than new diesel buses."
March 26, 2014
Great comment. Thanks for shining light on the special treatment NG and the superior realities of clean diesel.
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