Today, U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Chair of the Joint Economic Committee and a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, led a bipartisan group of 32 senators in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker supporting a common-sense proposal to permit Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) labeling that encourages consumer-friendly price comparisons.
The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) proposal would allow LNG to be marketed in “diesel gallon equivalent” (DGE) units when sold as a motor vehicle fuel. The suggested modification would allow consumers to make understandable price comparisons for different fuel options, supporting the use of domestically produced natural gas in the transportation sector.
In their letter, the senators note: “There is growing interest in the use of cleaner, U.S. produced vehicle fuels, and we believe the NCWM steering committee’s recommendation will encourage even greater consumer adoption.”
The NCWM is a nonprofit association that works closely with the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop standards for weights and measures for a variety of products and equipment. Next week, the NCWM is holding its annual meeting in Detroit, Michigan, and is scheduled to consider a recommendation from its Natural Gas Steering Committee to permit LNG to be marketed in DGE units, given that LNG largely competes with diesel fuel.
Thune and Klobuchar were joined in their letter by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Dan Coats (R-Indiana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Mark Udall (D-Colorado), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), John Walsh (D-Montana), and Mark Warner (D-Virginia).
The full text of the senators’ letter can be found here and is listed below:
July 10, 2014
The Honorable Penny Pritzker
Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Secretary Pritzker:
Next week, the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) plans to vote on a steering committee recommendation to permit retailers of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to sell these fuels in diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) units. While the NCWM is an independent entity, it works closely with the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which has expressed reservations about the proposal. NIST would reportedly prefer to have CNG and LNG sold in units of mass, specifically kilograms.
We appreciate the technical expertise of NIST, but we think the NCWM’s special Natural Gas Steering Committee struck the right balance in March of this year when it endorsed a plan to measure natural gas by mass but permit marketing of CNG and LNG in DGE units when sold as motor fuel. As explained by the steering committee’s chairman, the proposal “allows consumers [to] compare cost and quantity and allows equipment manufacturers to design systems to meet just one set of requirements.”
This proposal is consistent with and maintains the United States’ nearly twenty-year history of marketing CNG in gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) units. The proposal also has the support of many in industry, including companies engaged in the production and delivery of natural gas, and organizations promoting the use of natural gas-powered vehicles.
There is growing interest in the use of cleaner, U.S. produced vehicle fuels, and we believe the NCWM steering committee’s recommendation will encourage even greater consumer adoption. The value of the proposal for consumers, even those who have not yet purchased a natural gas vehicle, is underscored by the U.S. Government’s own reports on alternative fuels. For example, the quarterly Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report issued by the Department of Energy compares the prices of various fuels, including CNG, in both GGE and DGE units. The April 2014 report also notes that consumer interest in alternative fuels generally increases when the cost savings “per gallon” increase. Without marketing of CNG and LNG in gallon equivalents, such price comparisons will be unrealistically difficult for consumers—or potential consumers—to make.
For these reasons, we support the proposal endorsed by the NCWM steering committee and ask that you encourage NIST to work closely with the natural gas industry and other key stakeholders to find common ground for a process and a standard that will benefit all parties.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.