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Coalition Holds Second Annual Lobby Day, Honors 2018 NGV Innovators and Legislators of the Year

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Coalition President Thomas Lawson (right) with Seung Baik, chief legal officer of Agility Fuel Systems.

Coalition board members met with 16 key California legislators and their staff members as well as honored NGV industry advocates and companies during the Coalition’s second annual Legislative Lobby Day and awards reception, held May 15­–16 in Sacramento.

Educating policy makers about the NGV industry, the technology and benefits of natural gas vehicles, and the importance of funding NGV projects was the main purpose of the event, said Coalition President Thomas Lawson. Lobby Day was held the week before legislators’ June 1 deadline to pass this session’s bills from the house of origin, giving Coalition members a chance to review the issues with legislators before the casting of final votes in committees.

“We gained a lot of traction on bills that had been in limbo before our meetings with the legislators and their staffs,” said Lawson. He partially credits the passage of several alternative fuel–friendly bills from their originating house to the efforts of Coalition members on Lobby Day. 

Jim Waddell, senior counsel and director of safety and compliance at AMP Americas, joined Lawson and other CNGVC members in several meetings with policy makers.

“I went as a representative of a company in the NGV industry that benefits from legislative support of RNG in trucking. My main goal was to educate policymakers on the indispensable benefits of RNG in the medium- and heavy-duty trucking sector—and to show that the formula does work,” said Waddell, who was participating in his first lobbying event with the Coalition. (Access to policy makers is one benefit of Coalition membership. For details, please contact Thomas Lawson.)

He added that some of the staffers he met with were particularly interested in AMP Americas’ biogas facility in Indiana, where they’re turning dairy waste into 1.5 million dges of RNG annually.

“The most valuable conversations were with the policymakers who didn’t yet know that renewable fuels are already a proven technology for heavy-duty trucks. Our success story, particularly with on-farm anaerobic digesters, really hit home for them,” he said. “It’s important to educate lawmakers on the value of reducing life-cycle emissions, rather than just tailpipe emissions, and on RNG’s ability to make massive impact now in helping California meet its environmental goals, rather than several years from now.”

For Lawson, a particular highlight of the event was introducing Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino) and her staff to the benefits of anaerobic digesters. Because she represents a district in the Inland Empire, which typically has some of the poorest air quality in the state, Reyes is interested in alternative fuels and clean transportation. By the end of the meeting, Lawson and Reyes had begun planning to tour CR&R Environmental Services’ anaerobic digester facility in Perris in early fall.

Announcing the 2018 NGV Champions

At the awards ceremony, the Coalition again honored leaders of the NGV industry who have been instrumental in creating cutting-edge technologies and policy makers who have steered clean transportation legislation in California.

The 2018 NGV Innovator of the Year awards went to Agility Fuel Systems and UPS. Agility Fuel Systems was recognized for its development of Blue iQ in partnership with Cummins Westport. Blue iQ integrates Agility’s CNG storage and delivery systems with Cummins Westport natural gas engines to improve the performance and serviceability of CNG vehicles, making it easier for fleets to transition to NGVs. Seung Baik, Agility’s chief legal officer and head of government relations, accepted the award. UPS was recognized for having the largest NGV fleet in the U.S.

The 2018 NGV Legislator of the Year awards went to Assemblymembers Autumn Burke (D-Marina del Rey) and Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay). Burke was recognized for authoring AB 2506, which the Coalition co-sponsored and which would have required that at least 15 percent of heavy-duty vehicles purchased by the state be fueled with RNG (the bill did not pass out of committee). Frazier was honored for his work on AB 2061, the weight-limit exemption bill for AFVs, which the Coalition also co-sponsored.

“Sitting down with leaders at Lobby Day and learning about their constituents’ priorities as well as what they do and don’t understand about renewable fuels was really informative,” said Waddell. “The more our story can get out there, and the more education we can do on the benefits of RNG tech in use right now, the more support we can get. California cannot afford inaction while it waits for other low carbon fuels to develop. With RNG we don’t need to wait.”

Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission