Commercial vehicle drivers and motorists fueling with natural gas in Alabama could ultimately start paying motor fuel road taxes at the pump rather than by buying an annual decal.
Legislation pending in the Alabama Legislature would suspend the motor fuel road tax decal program for CNG vehicles that fuel in the state. It would provide a tax holiday for natural gas used in vehicles and give state agencies until Oct. 1, 2016, to develop a program to collect motor fuel road taxes at the point of purchase for CNG and LNG. The measure also establishes standards for the sale and taxation of CNG and LNG based on energy equivalency with gasoline and diesel.
The Alabama Senate could vote as soon as April 1, giving the bill final legislative approval and sending it to the governor for his signature. The House of Representatives approved the measure March 18 in a 101-0 vote.
Only 300 CNG vehicles in Alabama currently have decals, which are purchased at a rate of $75 to $150 a year.
The current decal program is difficult to implement on out-of-state CNG vehicles and does not cover LNG vehicles, according to the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, a non-profit that advocates alternatively fueled vehicles. The legislation would also tax CNG and LNG in the same fashion as gasoline and diesel.
“This legislation creates a level playing field, and it will help expand the market for alternative fuels,” said Phillip Wiedmeyer, president of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition. “It will ensure that Alabama doesn’t lose motor fuel tax revenue as more companies and individuals shift from traditional fuels to cleaner-burning, domestically produced alternatives.”