As another Congressional session winds down, the two houses are working to pass a long-overdue transportation funding bill.

And the natural-gas industry hopes certain provisions in the House's long-term transportation bill will survive the reconciliation process.

Congress passed an interim funding bill last week, to keep transportation funding flowing through December 4 and allow more time for negotiations on a longer-term bill.

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At stake in that bill are certain provisions that would benefit natural-gas vehicles, according to NGT News.

The six-year transportation funding bill (H.R. 3763) passed by the House earlier this month includes two such provisions.

One would provide for regulatory parity between natural-gas vehicles and electric cars.

2015 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel Natural Gas

2015 Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel Natural Gas

It would require the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that any "preference or incentive provided to an electric vehicle is also provided to a natural gas vehicle."

That would likely mean a Federal tax credit for natural-gas cars, just like the $2,500 to $7,500 credit offered to buyers of new plug-in cars (both battery-electrics and plug-in hybrids).

A tax credit for natural-gas cars and other lower-emission vehicles was proposed in a White House budget submission earlier this year.

MORE: White House Budget Asks For $10K Electric-Car Credit, Natural-Gas Cars Added

The other provision would potentially allow states to use Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for natural-gas vehicles.

CMAQ funds are intended for use in transportation projects that allow regions to comply more fully with Federal air-quality standards.

An amendment in the transportation bill would give states more discretion in using these funds, including allowing for deployment of natural-gas vehicles, said Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), one of the amendment's authors.

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas

2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas

In addition, the Senate's transportation bill includes a provision that would give a 2,000-pound weight allowance to natural-gas commercial trucks on Federal highways.

That would compensate for the added weight of natural-gas tanks and plumbing that provide the same driving range as their diesel equivalents.

It's unclear if these provisions will remain in the final version of the bill that Congress will have to pass soon to meet a funding deadline.

Transportation funding would have expired December 4 if the interim bill had not been passed.

A joint conference committee is now working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the long-term bill.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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