Coalition-Sponsored Bill Passes Assembly, Fight for NGV Funding Continues

In a decisive victory for alternative fuels, seven of the eight bills the Coalition supported passed from their house of origin on June 1, including AB 2061, the Coalition co-sponsored bill providing a weight-limit exemption for AFVs. As the Legislature heads into the second half of the session, the Coalition plans to continue its fight for NGV-friendly bills and preservation of funding for NGV incentive programs in the state budget.

Legislators have until Aug. 31 to pass bills, but they must pass the budget bill by midnight June 15. Therefore the most pressing issue is proposed budget cuts to biofuels funding in a budget trailer bill that would fundamentally change the CEC’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (AB 118).

The Legislature is considering replacing the budgeted $25 million funding stream for biofuels with uncertain Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund monies, cutting the funding amount in half for 2018–19, or doing both. The trailer bill would eliminate the fuel neutrality of AB 118 and turn it into a funding mechanism solely for zero-emission charging infrastructure.

“The Coalition is pleased to join 11 Assemblymembers, including Patrick O’Donnell [D-Long Beach], Bill Quirk [D-Hayward], and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry [D-Winters], in signing a letter in opposition to these proposals. It’s critical that the state continue to support a diverse set of clean solutions. One size does not fit all, and we will continue to need ‘all of the above’ approaches to reach our clean air goals,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson.

What passed, what failed

The session so far has been a mixed bag.

“We’re disappointed that AB 2506 wasn’t passed out of the Assembly, but we’re excited that policy makers supported AB 2061 and held AB 3201, and we’re glad that AB 1745, the anti–combustion engine bill, failed to pass the Assembly,” said Lawson. He credited the success of AB 2061, as well as the failure of AB 3201, in part to the Coalition’s advocacy efforts. “This year our Lobby Day was timed perfectly, and I want to thank all the member companies that participated. It was critical to our success.”

AB 2506 would have required that at least 15 percent of new heavy-duty vehicles purchased by the state be fueled with RNG. AB 3201 would have raided the current incentive programs to fund a potential regulatory requirement for zero-emission transit buses. This bill was premature and goes against the technology-neutral approach that currently governs those programs.

In addition to AB 2061, several bills that the Coalition is watching passed to their first house:

  • AB 1879: Requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to provide an explanation for any moratoriums on new natural gas service connections.
  • AB 1945: Gives preference to disadvantaged communities when allocating Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund monies.
  • AB 2006: Establishes the Agricultural Worker Clean Transportation Investment Program to fund the deployment of near-zero-emission and zero-emission vehicles for agricultural vanpools.
  • SB 957: Extends HOV identifiers for SULEVs, advanced technology partial zero-emission vehicles, and transitional zero-emission vehicles until Jan. 1, 2023, for low-income owners.
  • SB 1119: Authorizes transit agencies that serve disadvantaged communities to spend 50 percent of CARB Low Carbon Transit Operations Program funds on technology improvements that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • SB 1440: Requires the CPUC to establish a statewide biomethane procurement program by July 1, 2019.

Lawson encourages Coalition members to express support for these bills as they make their way through the Senate and Assembly.