March 17, 2017. The California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC) is actively working on two bills in this legislative session that could significantly increase the market for natural gas vehicles (NGV), and is closely following several other bills that also could drive the NGV industry forward.
The Coalition is sponsoring AB 476 (Gipson), which updates the statutory definition of heavy-duty vehicles and defined medium-duty vehicles, and co-sponsoring SB 53 (Hueso), which codifies a weight exemption for NGVs. These bills aim to make it easier for fleets to invest in NGVs of all classes.
“AB 476 and SB 53 are especially important because they will create an unprecedented parity between dirty diesel trucks and clean NGVs,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson. “We are proud to sponsor AB 476 and to co-sponsor SB 53 with the San Diego County Disposal Association.”
AB 476 updates the 41-year-old definition of a heavy-duty vehicle in California statute. Current law defines a heavy-duty vehicle as over 6.000 pounds, which, as Lawson points out, includes almost every vehicle.
New state laws typically target three different vehicle classes that don’t match up with that binary and outdated weight specification. As a result, state programs use different definitions of vehicle classes.
“We need to specify weight classifications for vehicles in light-, medium-, and heavy-duty classes in order to more effectively reduce each type of vehicle’s emissions and ensure that state programs align with legislators’ intentions,” said Lawson.
SB 53 allows NGVs to carry the same cargo as diesel trucks. Currently, the weight limit for a heavy-duty truck on highways is 80.000 pounds, including trailers. But NGVs typically exceed that weight by 2.000 pounds because their fuel systems are heavier than their counterparts in diesel vehicles.
“A company or municipal fleet opting for an alternative fuel that emits fewer pollutants than diesel is actually punished by having to carry a lesser load to stay in compliance with the 80.000-pound limit,” said Lawson. “Allowing NGVs to carry the same weight of goods would cut down on NGV truck trips, reducing emissions even further. It would also eliminate a disincentive to switch from diesel to natural gas fuel.”