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Coalition Optimistic About Alt-Fuel Legislation in Final Session

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August 6, 2018

As the California Legislature reconvenes for its final 2018 session, the Coalition has high hopes for legislation benefiting alternative fuels industries. One bill—AB 2061, which supports clean trucks—is likely to pass the Legislature. Passage of a second bill, SB 1440, which encourages biomethane development, is also likely, but it will be a bit of a fight.

Coalition President Thomas Lawson expects that Gov. Jerry Brown will sign AB 2061, which would allow any near-zero-emission or zero-emission vehicle to exceed the current weight limits on heavy-duty truck power units by as much as 2,000 pounds. The Senate Appropriations Committee will hear the bill Aug. 16.

“This is the first bill the Coalition has sponsored, under my tenure, that will benefit all alternative fuel vehicles,” said Lawson. “Not only will it make it easier for fleets to adopt all types of alternative fuel technologies, it also will demonstrate the state’s acceptance of heavy-duty NGVs and natural gas fuels as an important part of California’s long-term transportation strategy.”

Biomethane bill faces a tougher challenge

SB 1440, which would require the California Public Utilities Commission to establish a biomethane program by July 1, 2019, faces a tougher battle than AB 2061. That’s partly because it is specific to natural gas transportation fuel rather than alternative fuels in general, said Lawson. The biggest challenge, he said, is providing evidence that RNG should receive the same benefits as other fuels in its procurement and use.

If SB 1440 does pass, it would be a significant victory for the RNG industry, mandating that California gas companies procure a total of 32 billion cubic feet of pipeline-quality biomethane annually by Jan. 1, 2030.

“This bill encourages public and private investment in RNG projects, which are a key ingredient for cleaning up the heavy-duty transportation sector and decarbonizing the pipeline system,” said Lawson.

Members: Make your opinion count

August is a busy month for the Legislature, and Lawson encourages Coalition members to continue engaging with policy makers and their staff as they consider the alternative fuel bills for the last time. August 17 is the last day for fiscal committees to meet and report bills, August 24 is the last day that bills can be amended on the floor by the Rules and Conference committees, and August 31 is the final day for each house to pass bills as the Legislature begins its final recess for the year.

Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission

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