DC Tripwire: NAT GAS Act: Is The Time Finally Right?

Provided By DC Tripwire

Bottom Line: The NAT GAS Act is expected to easily pass the House, where it has broad support from Members on both sides of the aisle. Challenges remain before the bill becomes law, however, the most significant of which is the determination of an acceptable pay-for, i.e. revenue raiser or spending cut to offset the tax subsidies provided in the bill. But with continued high gasoline prices and the American public demanding action, it may be that the time is finally right to send this legislation to the President’s desk. While its path through the House looks easy though, its prospects in the Senate are murkier, as it has been stymied in the Senate once before. Thus, companies which benefit from the tax benefits that would be derived form the NAT GAS Act — such as makers of fleet-based natural gas vehicles — could continue to ride a wave of high expectations as the bill winds its way through the House, but such expectations could run into a wall in the Senate.

· Last week, Reps. John Sullivan (R-OK), Dan Boren (D-OK), Kevin Brady (R-TX), and John Larson (D-CT) introduced H.R. 1380, the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act of 2011, in the House.

· The bill seeks to promote natural gas as a transportation fuel by providing expanded tax incentives for the purchase and production of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and the installation of natural gas refueling infrastructure. It also includes a section to directing funding at the Department of Energy for research and development to improve NGV performance and efficiency and to promote NVGs for their petroleum reductions and greenhouse gas reductions.

· The NAT GAS Act already has 133 bipartisan cosponsors, ranging from the most conservative to the most liberal, and both President Obama and Speaker Boehner have expressed support for legislation promoting NGVs.

· The House bill was referred to three committees – Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Science.

– These multiple committee referrals could, in theory, slow the bill’s movement through the House.

– Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), however, is a member of the House Natural Gas Caucus and is expected to support the bill. Additionally, Rep. Kevin Brady, a lead cosponsor of the legislation, is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

– The road through the Energy and Commerce Committee, where Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) has previously expressed concern about passing legislation to promote one source of energy over another, may be a bit rockier. In addition to overcoming any speed bumps with the Chairman, Democratic Members could attempt to attach any number of “poison pill” amendments to the bill in committee, including controversial amendments regarding hydraulic fracturing.

– But because the bill is supported by Speaker Boehner, and because Rep. Sullivan is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, these obstacles are expected to be overcome.
· Champions of the bill believe that because it is supported by both Republican and Democratic Leadership (Rep. Larson is Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus), the legislation will move quickly through the House.

· Despite its multiple committee referrals and possible challenges in the Energy and Commerce Committee, the bill is, in fact, likely to pass the House easily.

· There is even talk that the bill may be considered under “suspension of the rules,” a process typically used in the House on noncontroversial measures. This procedure limits debate to 40 minutes, permits no floor amendments, and requires the support two-thirds of Members present and voting for passage.

Challenges Ahead

· Although there is not yet an official CBO score for the NAT GAS Act, back of the envelope estimates suggest that it will cost approximately $3.5 billion.

· According to the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, which became law early last year, bills reducing revenues must be fully offset by cuts in mandatory programs or by revenue increases.

· Although the House Rules under the Republican leadership do not require tax cuts to be paid for, such a requirement still exists in the Senate and remains law of the land.

· At this point, the bill passed by the House is not expected to have a pay-for.

· This will present a challenge in the Senate, where companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the weeks ahead by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Orin Hatch (R-NJ). (The bill is also supported by Majority Leader Harry Reid.)

· In the last Congress, disagreement over the pay-for prevented similar legislation from going anywhere in the Senate, and that issue could easily rear its head again, grinding the bill’s movement to a halt.

· In addition to the challenge of finding an acceptable pay-for, it remains uncertain if the NAT GAS Act would move on its own in the Senate or if would be included in a more comprehensive energy package, which would significantly slow the process and make passage more complicated.

12 thoughts on “DC Tripwire: NAT GAS Act: Is The Time Finally Right?

  • I’ve been following this issue for a while. This bill is good for the USA. Let’s get it passed!
    Informative article. Thank you. (By the way, Senator Orin Hatch is from UT, not NJ.)

  • This bill would pave the way for us to start exporting an energy source the world is thirsting for. Building and supporting these terminals would create many good paying jobs and because we have a great reserve of natural gas it would help our deficit in terms of exports. If Obama is truly trying to bring jobs back to this country he would support this bill.

  • This is a no-brainer. Reduce military spending by an equal amount as we won’t need as many troops in oil, I mean foreign lands. I’m all for the military but we should not risk American lives fighting for something we already have in abundance in our own country! The fact that it is cleaner and just as efficient and cheaper are just added bonuses.

  • The revenues generated by keeping 2 billion worth of tax dollars a day inside of the united states would create over 500k jobs that would have exponential affect on taxable revenues that these 500k jobs would spend on local companies and real estate which would likely end up paying for itself in the long run. It seems crazy that there is not more support for this bill. As usual, big oil companies and other selfish interests are buying off politicians to prevent the US from passing a bill that would be good for the common American. If this doesn’t pass, our politicians are to blame for being in the pockets of other greedy interests such as big oil. It’s crazy that most of the people I don’t know do not know anything about this bill but they do know of the doom and gloom stories of how terrible fracking is and they do not realize how great this is for our country. If fracking is a problem, it should not have a impact on the passing of this bill because the government should monitor the companies doing the fracking and increase standards on the frackers to make sure they are doing it in a way that does not hurt our economy. If companies do create problems they should get sued and go out of business and then companies that are more responsible will pop up and do the fracking successfully. The arguments against the bill are garbage and this should be a no-brainer for any true american.

  • The Ethanol and Coal industries are going to hate this one.
    The environmental groups have been bought off by these people for too long.
    This is a positive game changer for the consumer, the security of the Country, our children, job creation and the environment.
    A negative for OPEC, the Middle East, Islamist extremism, and Iran.

    Imagine a bi-partison bill passing through this congress? It shows you that it can be done. Of course it has been happening and is going to happen dispite government interference.
    A perfect example of how the 1% or successful, creative, private industry will save this country if the Government would just get out of the way.

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