HARRISBURG -- With gasoline prices sharply rising and natural gas prices falling, the state should encourage companies to convert fleets of large trucks and vans to vehicles that run on natural gas, Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York, said today.
He said gasoline is approaching $4 a gallon in many places, with no end in sight, while natural gas has fallen to about $2 a gallon. He has a bill, House Bill 2251, that would give state-funded financial incentives to trucking companies and others that use large vehicles to convert their fleets to natural gas.
"Rising costs for transportation translate into rising costs for consumers to buy products,'' he told a news conference.
His bill would take $6 million per year, for five years, out of the state's Clean Air Fund, to subsidize the cost of converting a truck to using natural gas. The fund, which is part of the Department of Environmental Protection, has $37 million in it now, he said. Talks are going on now with DEP about using part of the fund for natural gas conversions.
Several other legislators supported his bill today, including Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak. Supporters said the bill would help a number of Pennsylvania companies, such as Knox Western in Erie, which builds devices to compress natural gas for use in vehicles; Eco-Friendly in Gibsonia, which builds natural gas fueling stations; Baker Equipment in Pottstown, which retrofits vehicles for natural gas use; and LNG Energy Solutions of Canonsburg, which provides liquified natural gas used in large trucks and other long-haul vehicles.
Mr. Saylor said his bill would clean Pennsylvania air because natural gas is cleaner-burning than gasoline and gives off less carbon dioxide and nitrogen. He said that's why it's appropriate to use money from the Clean Air Fund to help companies convert trucks and vans.
He also wants to start building a system of natural gas filling stations on main roads around the state for heavy vehicles to use when they need to fill up. Such stations could eventually be used by the driving public once passenger cars using natural gas become popular.
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