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Michael B.
Democrat CO

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  • Regarding the Excise Tax Levied on Liquefied Natural Gas

    by Senator Michael F. Bennet

    Posted on 2014-12-12

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    BENNET. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with my colleagues.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. BENNET. Madam President, I rise to discuss an amendment regarding natural gas that was adopted earlier this year by the Senate Finance Committee and was included in the Senate-passed highway bill. I wish it were included in one of the year-end measures this body is passing in the next few days. This is a bipartisan proposal that passed the Senate overwhelmingly and deserves to be enacted before we conclude this Congress.

    The measure--a bill we worked on with Senator Burr from North Carolina--would equalize the tax treatment of liquefied natural gas, LNG, and diesel fuel. The federal highway excise tax on both diesel and LNG is set at 24.3 cents per gallon. However, because LNG contains less energy per gallon than diesel fuel, on an energy equivalent basis, LNG effectively pays 170 percent of the diesel tax rate. The current highway excise tax treatment of LNG is a disincentive to investment in new LNG trucks and fueling stations, and should be corrected to encourage capital investments and help diversify transportation fuel choices.

    LNG is a transportation fuel used for large trucks and some marine and rail vessels. The fuel has attracted the attention of fleet operators due to its low cost at the pump and reduced environmental impact. LNG produces significantly lower levels of toxic emissions than diesel fuel, including lower levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Using LNG instead of [[Page S6771]] diesel fuel also reduces pollution from so-called ``black carbon,'' also known as soot. Black carbon is a major contributor to climate change, second only to carbon dioxide in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere once emitted.

    This amendment would change the highway excise tax and the Inland Waterways Financing rate on LNG so that the tax is imposed on the energy content of a diesel gallon, known as a diesel gallon equivalent, rather than strictly on a per-gallon basis. LNG has huge potential as a cheaper, cleaner, domestic energy source and we need to ensure our tax system is not putting it at a disadvantage.

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