Generous New Federal Incentives Could Put CNG Vehicles on the Map

Last week, a bipartisan coalition of 133 House members signed on to co-sponsor the latest incarnation of the NAT GAS Act, which would provide credits for consumers, OEMs, fleet operators and filling station owners to encourage the adoption of compressed and liquified natural gas vehicles. The legislation was first introduced several years ago—thanks largely to the backing of energy magnate T. Boone Pickens—but had stagnated in congress until last week, when President Obama endorsed it as part of a major energy policy speech outlining White House proposals to cut annual oil imports by one-third within ten years.

With gasoline prices climbing ever closer to the $4 per gallon, momentum behind the newly updated bill is said to be growing in Washington. Pickens claimed recently that this time around, NAT GAS is a “no-brainer” to win congressional approval—predicting that it will pass with about 300 votes in the House of Representatives. The current bill is largely the same as its predecessors, though it would expire after just five years instead of 17, and create no mandates for public or private CNG adoption. The total cost of the bill hasn’t been released, but some proponents have placed it at about $1 billion per year.

Among NAT GAS’s provisions:

  • Tax credits of up to $7,500 toward the purchase of consumer compressed natural gas and liquified natural gas vehicles, and as much as $64,000 for heavier grade commercial trucks.
  • Up to $4,000 per vehicle for manufacturers of CNG and LNG vehicles.
  • A $0.50 per gallon discount on the federal fuel tax.
  • A 50 percent tax credit (maxing out at $100,000) toward the installation of CNG/LNG pumps at public and private filling stations.
  • A $2,000 credit toward the installation of home refueling stations.

If NAT GAS were to win approval, it would constitute the first major victory for T. Boone Pickens and his Pickens Plan, which the billionaire began touting three years ago as a remedy for the nation’s foreign oil addiction. Pickens freely admits to being heavily invested in the gas and wind sectors promoted in his proposals, and his companies would be among the chief beneficiaries to any major market penetration by natural gas vehicles.

But Pickens isn’t alone in his enthusiasm for CNG. Honda has been quietly selling its Civic GX in California, Utah, Oklahoma and New York for six years—though that car is currently the only mass-market consumer natural gas vehicle available in the United States. Last year though, Honda announced that it will be expanding availability of the GX to all 50 states in 2012. Recently, word has spread that the car is being updated in anticipation of a more aggressive American market push, though Honda has offered modest sales projections for 2012—just 4,000 vehicles per year, or twice the current numbers.

Still, if the current version of NAT GAS becomes law and the federal government offers OEMs and consumers a combined $11,500 per vehicle to take a chance on CNG, Honda may need to adjust its forecasts.


  • JJJ

    “A $2,000 credit toward the installation of home refueling stations.”

    This caught me eye, I didnt realize it was possible. So would you be able to tap into your existing natural gas line to fuel the car and just get it added as your regular monthly bill?

  • JamesDavis

    Of course the GOP led House is going to back another dangerous and destructive fossil fuel. And why not, none of them have to drink the radioactive waste water that comes from the extraction of natural gas or worry about the methane catching on fire and blowing up at your kitchen tap when you try to get a drink of the deadly polluted radioactive tap water, or worrying about your house being totally destroyed from the 2.5 and above earthquakes that the (shell-fracking) causes on a daily bases, or a collision of two vehicles causing the tanks to explode and wiping out a whole neighborhood. Why wouldn’t the GOP approve this destructive fossil fuel, it’s right in line with their agenda of death, destruction and poverty to everyone except oil and coal barons.

    There is a reason that natural gas hasn’t replaced gasoline decades ago… its extraction is very destructive to the land, its pollution is a thousand times more dangerous to humans than oil extraction or coal and it puts even more deadly chemicals and carbons into the air, water and land than coal or oil put together. Of course the GOP is going to root for and pass that dangerous fossil fuel.

  • Samie

    Fracking, not a common term but soon most will know about it. On the positive side maybe investing in bottled water companies could be the way to go…

    As I see it other alternatives like ethanol & CNG are getting renewed support due to higher prices at the pump & the potential threat of EVs capturing most of the alternative “fuel” market (consumers, auto-manufactures, & government)

    A question, CNG at home? Not sure how safe that would be & support for natural gas usually comes from those interested in maintaining centralized fueling schemes.

  • FamilyGuy

    Let me see if I get this straight.

    The positives are:

    -it’s cleaner to burn then gasoline (not talking about the processing, just the burning in the car)
    -it’s domestic (compared to imported oil)

    However, it’s still a fossil fuel, so it’s limited in it’s quantity. So, what’s the point? It’s just buying time until a renewable can become mainstream? Why invest the time, energy and effort into something that is just a short term solution?

    Also, the range on the Civic seems somewhat limited. Not as much as the current EV offerings, but definitely less then the current ICE and hybrid offerings. According to the Honda website, the Civic GX NGV gets 24/36/28 MPG (city/highway/combined). The tank is 7.8 gallons (at 3600 psi). You’re talking about a range of 187.2/280.8/218.4 miles (city/highway/combined). Nothing special there.

    What’s the point of all of this? Just to get off oil?

    One more point to ponder, I don’t even know how much it would cost to fill up the car. Even if I could fill up the car from the natural gas being supplied to my house, I have no idea how many therms it would take to fill the car at 3600 psi. Are we talking pennies on the dollar compared to gasoline at the pump? Half? Roughly the same? I bought a hybrid because I know that I’ll keep it for 10 years and will save in the long haul. I don’t know how to even factor the cost of fuel in here for the natural gas.

  • Anonymous

    We have been producing natural gas as long as we have been producing oil. The problem with the contamination water in Pennsylvania is not the natural gas, it’s the old wells in the area drilled 70 years ago. They didn’t plug them up right back then. Because if that, natural but toxic substances in the earth itself get pushed up the old well pipes and into the water. Where wells have been plugged properly, this isn’t a problem. The oil companies need to go back and replug the old wells to today’s standards.

    The only real way to save the earth from human destruction is to reduce the number of human beings on it by limiting population growth. As long as we build houses, consume food, breathe air, drive cars; we will impact it in a negative way.

  • BillyG

    I believe that Honda has been offering the home refueling stations for as long as they have been selling the GX. What I would like to see is a comparison between the CNG and gasoline versions of the Civic in dollars/mile and pollutants/mile. CNG isn’t electric, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Granted that most of the methane we use comes out of the ground, but land fills and farming operations (e.g. dairies) are increasingly important sources. It would be interesting to see if tractor manufactures such as John Deere are looking at digester fueled vehicles.

  • Anonymous

    As far as I know, the Honda Civic GX’s emission of pollutants is low enough for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) to rank it as the greenest vehicle, beating even ZEV like LEAF.

  • wichmann

    Family Guy,

    While the exact cost per mile includes a number of factors, I can provide some information.

    Basically the cost of natural gas per BTU is something like 1/5th the cost of gas or diesel per BTU. The actual cost difference depends on many things like where you live, delivery costs, taxes, engine efficiency and more. But right now is seems pretty clear that if you could just magically use nat gas instead of gasoline or diesel you fuel bill would be cut in half or more.

  • Samie

    What happened to my comment? the word should be like “snowflake” with ing at the end not another word that starts with a F. Puzzled.

    Anyways agree with FamilyGuy, throwing billions at a short-term fix that is just another nonrenewable doesn’t sound exciting to me.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @Anonymous–

    “The only real way to save the earth from human destruction is to reduce the number of human beings on it by limiting population growth.”

    You have one solution, but what’s your plan to implement it?

  • Jay

    I have a hybrid natural gas/gasoline car (Opel Zafira, Germany). The car has 150 PS, offers 7 seats or extended space in the back and just works great. The advantage of natural gas is it indeed produces at least 30% less CO2 for the same distance. And there is hardly any CO2 wasted for getting it off (no raffinery). I have it as a family car besides the Prius. The large Zafira car indeed only produces slightly more CO2 than the Prius.
    The typical ranges with natural gas are 230 miles. The normal gasoline offers another 100 miles range.

  • Greg

    @Familyguy.
    Even if switching to NG from gas/diesel is a wash as far as pollution is concerned, I’d still be in favor of it to get us away from foreign oil. The more money we keep at home, the more there will be for making a switch to other cleaner fuels.

  • Anonymous

    Chrysler to sell natural gas vehicles … by 2017.

  • George Parrott

    Anybody read this month’s issue of Discover magazine or the article last year sometime in National Geographic on the process and consequences of how “natural gas” is now being extracted?

    I think I would rather have a nuclear energy facility next door than be anywhere near a “natural gas field” these days.

    IMHO, CNG is absolutely NOT an answer to our energy needs in the long run, and even in the near term this fuel source is one of the dirtiest, maybe even WORSE THAN COAL, for the environment.

  • Chuck S.

    There is so much misinformation regarding the extraction of natural gas. We have enough gas in place to fuel our electricity and a sizeable portion of our transportation needs for over a hundred years. Fracking has been used for decades and the technology improves each year. There are dozens of wells in visual sight of downtown Ft. Worth that have used this technology. It is a safe and highly effective process provided that best industry practices are used. Those best practices also improve over time. Its available, relatively inexpensive and clean burning. We don’t have a choice but develop this resource if we want to provide for the health and safety of our people.

  • Anonymous

    According to GreenCar:
    - The Honda Civic GX is the only car offered by an auto manufacturer that can run on clean burning natural gas;
    - In the past, several manufacturers offered cars and light trucks that could operate on NG. All except Honda have left this market in the U.S.;
    - Unlike bi-fuel vehicles that were offered by other automakers that could run on both natural gas or gasoline, the Honda NGVs are a dedicated natural gas vehicles in that they can only use natural gas. This allows the engine to be optimized for NG;
    - The U.S.EPA says the Honda Civic GX is the world’s cleanest internal-combustion vehicle, [Honda says 'the amount of smog-forming emissions emitted by the Civic GX is near zero'];
    - CNG is a much safer fuel than gasoline. After all, natural gas is used in virtually every home. In case of an accident or leak, unlike gasoline that can pool on the ground, natural gas dissipates harmlessly into the air. With a very narrow range of flammability to be combustible and nearly twice the ignition temperature of gasoline it is less likely to cause a fire. Because natural gas is such a clean burning fuel, carbon deposits in the engine are nil reducing cylinder and ring wear so engine life can be many time longer than when running of gasoline. Oil change and tune up intervals can also be extended.
    (http://www.greencar.com/articles/5-things-need-honda-civic-gx-cng.php)

    According to Honda, demand for natural gas Civic has tripled.

    Published report of Apr 11 says the cost of CNG equivalent to a gallon of gasoline retails for about $1.72.(YMMV)

  • cngaz

    Yep, you can fuel from your home gas line and cut out the gas station and the middle man.
    Natural gas is also renewable when it comes from digestion such as landfills and dairy waste, lots of opportunity there!
    Its cleaner, cheaper and its ours!
    Its so clean that for every garbage truck we switch to nat gas it is the same as taking 325 cars off of the road!
    Plus advancing nat gas will put more people to work here!!

  • Bill Palmer

    I do not understand why the Car Companies keep coming out with Hybrids that get less Gas Mileage than a Tyota Prius. I have a 2008 Prius that has 68,000 miles on it that i dirve about 27 miles a day back and forth to work. I average between 50 and 55mpg at 55 miles and hour. Honda started this with the insight which got about 69 mpg and has went down hill from there. Ford and some of the other companies are producing Hybrids that don’t even come close to the Toyota Prius. This is CRAZY!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    James: Your comments are conclusory and not based upon facts. I suggest that you do your homework instead of making senseless accusations. You will find that compressed natural gas is a much greener earth friendly fuel than the gasoline we use from foreign oil. Wake up James!

  • chandan sarkar

    1. not all natural gas is extracted through fracking.

    2. the damage to the environment of collecting natural gas and oil are approximately the same.

    3. the reason natural gas is not popular for consumer vehicles today is because the range is only 150 miles.

  • Bi-Partisan means both Democrats & Republicans

    The four original sponsors are John Sullivan (R-OK), Dan Boren (D-OK), John Larson (D-CT) and Kevin Brady (R-TX). But that’s not the end of the story. There were also 76 bipartisan original cosponsors – an almost unbelievable list of 37 Republicans and 40 Democrats from 33 states.

    Whoa! More democrats than republicans sponsored the bill. Even more voted for it. 101 Democrat and only 78 Republican. For the total 179

    http://www.mygov365.com/legislation/view/id/4d9d998b49e51bf5334b1800/tab/sponsors/

    GOP. Hahahaha you’re and idiot

  • Nelson Lu

    @Bill Palmer, because the Prius is not the right car for every application? I drive over a very windy mountain pass as part of my regular commute (where, incidentally, there is a huge windmill farm producing renewable, clean electricity), and I do not feel comfortable in a Prius — that’s why I got a Fusion Hybrid, which is also a much nicer car in terms of comfort and convenience. In fact, once I test drove the Fusion, the Prius was not on my list of cars to consider any more.

  • Dave Morrow

    Home CNG fueling stations have been commercially available for over 20 years. The BRC Fuelmaker is a popular one. Essentially a fuel maker compresses line gas, which is around 10 psi, up to 3000+ psi required for auto use. The system sits in your garage and fuels the car overnight. You can still use commercial quick fill stations of course. My sister’s CNG Honda is a super great car – so quiet you can’t even tell it is idling and almost no smog emissions. The engines last a long time as the fuel is so free of contaminants. People will get bored with the car before the engine wears out – know a guy with 900,000 miles on his propane Isuzu pick up. The seats and dash are shot and the engine still has perfect compression…

  • B. Chester

    You obviously have your head so far up your butt that daylight has to be pumped in to you. the only reason that LNG/CNG hasnt been used is because the infrastructure doesnt/hasnt existed before now. You are drastically overstating the risks and hazards of the drilling and extraction of LNG and the operation of LNG/CNG vehicles is no more hazardous than conventional vehicles

  • B. Chester

    I have been transporting LNG to a commercial fueling station in Salt Lake City for the last three months. the retail price @ the station for LNG is $1.99/DGE (diesel gallon equivalant) vs the diesel price of $ 4.19/ Gallon. the station also sells CNG @ $ 1.69/ GGE (gasoline gallon equivalant). The emissions from LNG/CNG are 1 (water vapor). Electric cars? (coal powered autos?) THIS is a GOOD idea ??? The electricity comes from coal fired power plants.

  • B. Chester

    The VW new Beetle diesel gets better mileage than the Toyota Prius

  • B Chester

    Nuke’em

  • John K.

    Both Honda and Ford (fleet vehicles) have experience w/CNG cars AND w/hybrids. A hybrid Honda Civic GX (coupe & sedan) or a Ford Fusion CNG Hybrid would be great: get off of oil immediately, switch to ultra clean CNG, and extend that CNG, making it even less polluting w/inexpensive hybrid tech (vs big cost for long range PHV/EVs).

    ETA: CNG is the best “bridge” to get us off of dirty crude now and to hold us over as we transition to EVs as battery/ultracap tech improves and prices come down over the next 10 years.

  • Anonymous

    CNG IS about $2.60/gal as opposed to $4.16/ gal for regular unleaded here in Chicago. So 2.60 X 7 = 18.2 versus 4.16 x 14 (approx tank capacity of a Civic Ex) = 58.28. So you save about $40 per fill up. If you take it one step further and divided the total miles driven on a tank (200 for CNG vs 280 on unleaded) by the total cost per fill up (18 vs 58) the savings cost per mile is huge!

  • StephanFlaming

    Only this big design can help to move the country ahead in the competition.

    http://www.besttrucksbuy.com/commercial_trucks.php

  • Irv Cohen

    Why can’t a Pruis be cng fueled? Best of both worlds?

  • mackeyz

    Yes, it is possible. And yes it would be added into your existing gas bill. Look up Phil Stations. The only problem I see is it says it’s only good for 6,000 hours of service then needs to be refurbished costing an additional $2,000.00. If it wasn’t for that I would consider it.

  • pj

    ” house being totally destroyed from the 2.5 and above earthquakes”

    Even if you’re constructing your house from playing cards, you’re doing something wrong structurally if it can’t withstand a 2.5 earthquake. Remember to pair the cards up leaning them together like a letter A. If the earthquakes get up to 3.5 you might need to use some Elmer’s glue.

  • Russell

    Yes, it’s possible. The only one I’m aware of is called Phill, by BRC FuelMaker. Hooks straight up to your gas line, and uses about as much electricity as a small appliance. It charges overnight. Pretty neat, eh?

  • tapra1

    and create no mandates for public or private CNG adoption. The total cost of the bill hasn’t been released, but some proponents have placed it at about $1 billion per year.Host News

  • weltel

    yes cng/lng propane have been used for years in cars and trucks,it runs so clean you may not need a plug job for years.then we have the e85 fuel, its been added to our gas for years.but rt now you can only buy it on the pa turnpike. some cars and truck can run on it. chevys dodges

  • ranmorg

    I don’t know where to start. Natrual Gas is a fossil fuel. Very clean and very, very pleniful (over 200 year supply here in the U.S.). I’ve called my local natural gas supplier for my home and they tell me that using a home CNG statioin would cost me about $1.00 a gallon (90cents for the gas and 10cents for the electricity to compress it). The problem seems to be finding CNG conversion kits for older vehicles that are EPA certified (really nothing over a year or 2 old and only for certain vehicles/engine types/sizes). I’ve also called some vehicle manufacturer’s to ask about vehicle warranties with CNG conversions (of course they were clueless). For those concerned about safety, videos from Government testing are available showing how safe the systems are. I wish the U.S. Government would provide rebates/tax breaks for CNG just like every other type of incentive programs. I’ll be on board right now.

  • zamia royal

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