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O'Brien bill encourages use of natural gas

Published: Wed, June 3, 2015 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Marc Kovac



The Ohio House re-launched deliberations Tuesday on legislation that would provide tax breaks for consumers, businesses and public agencies that switch to natural-gas-powered vehicles.

HB 176 is similar to legislation that moved through the chamber last session but ultimately stalled in the Ohio Senate without final action.

Sponsoring Reps. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-63rd, and Dave Hall, R-Millersburg, D-70th, reintroduced the proposed law changes earlier this year with a few tweaks.

The ultimate goal remains unchanged, however: taking advantage of fuels from eastern Ohio’s emerging shale-oil fields to reduce demand for overseas oil.

“With the discovery of major shale plays in North America combined with advancements in drilling to harvest these vast stores of natural gas and oil, Ohio and our nation are experiencing a major energy revolution,” O’Brien told the House’s Ways and Means Committee, where the legislation had its initial hearing. “Considering these shale plays have enough reserves to provide our nation’s needs for 100 years with cheap and reliable supplies, governments and the private sector must rethink their policies to capitalize on this energy boom.”

The bill would provide thousands of dollars in tax breaks to cover new-vehicle purchases or conversions from conventional fuels to compressed natural gas. Another provision would provide a $500 sales-tax break for those buying electric vehicles.

The legislation also would earmark $16 million in annual grants to assist local governments and nonprofits in converting their vehicle fleets to compressed natural gas.

Additional language would phase in, over 10 years, motor-fuel taxes on compressed natural gas. And a sunset provision would end the incentive and grant programs after five years.

“Several states are aggressively adopting methods to promote alternative fuels, and if Ohio does not adopt legislation like HB 176, we will be left behind,” O’Brien said.

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