In an effort to promote Louisiana's natural gas resources, state lawmakers have proposed a bill would require state agencies to purchase natural gas and/or bi-fuel vehicles.

The bill, House Bill 1213, endorsed by Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro, would require the administrators of Louisiana state agencies to not approve fleet vehicle purchases unless the vehicles can be fueled by natural gas or liquid petroleum gas (aka propane) or are bi-fuel models (either gasoline or diesel plus CNG or LPG).

Funding would come from the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Revolving Loan Fund or the Flex-Fund Revolving Loan Programm and would pay the difference between the cost of a traditionally fueled vehicle and an alternative-fuel vehicle. The bill also includes law enforcement and emergency service vehicles if alternative-fuel vehicles meet the needs of the agencies.

Agencies will be able to waive the requirements of the bill if they can't recover the difference between the purchase cost of an alternative-fuel vehicle and a traditionally fueled vehicle within 60 months of the purchase or lease. Agencies will also be able to waive the bill's requirements if the agency isn't within 25 miles of an available fueling facility or if the vehicle doesn't meet required specifications required by the agency.

The bill also says a state agency can acquire equipment or refueling facilities needed to operate alt-fuel vehicles by purchasing or leasing if the agency can recover its costs, including finance charges, within 48 months of the purchase or lease. Other options include gifts or loans of the equipment or facilities (including a gift or loan pursuant to a service contract for the supply of alternative fuels).

The Office of the Governor says Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has yet to sign the bill and that it currently is not on his schedule.