Photo via Wikimedia.

Photo via Wikimedia.

Federal lawmakers have approved legislation that will extend expired tax credits for companies that use alternative fuels through the end of 2016.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 approved Dec. 18 will extend several federal tax credits that expired in 2014, and make some subsidies permanent, according to an NGT News report. The package includes a two-year extension through Dec. 31, 2016 for compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and propane autogas.

Provisions would include a weight exemption that allows heavy-duty natural gas trucks to exceed the federal weight limits up to 82,000 pounds to compensate for the additional weight of natural gas fuel systems and tanks.

The Act also creates regulatory equality for NGVs by allowing automakers to more accurately calculate fuel economy of bi-fuel NGVs. The current credit assumes bi-fuel NGVs operate 50% of the time on gasoline instead of natural gas.

Also included in the Act are provisions that expand the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program to clarify that port facilities qualify for funding; create alternative fuel infrastructure corridors, including natural gas fueling stations along major national highways; and extend a state’s ability to provide HOV lane access for NGVs and other dedicated alternative fuel vehicles until 2025.

Both NGVAmerica and Clean Energy Fuels Corp. praised the actions of congress. “The tax credit will support the continued expansion of natural gas fueling in the U.S., which will help to clean our air and keep dollars here,” said Andrew J. Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy. “We applaud Congress for taking this action and encourage the implementation of permanent measures to encourage further use of this superior and cleaner fuel.”

Matthew Godlewski, president of NGVAmerica, said, “This legislation will assist fleets and consumers transition to cleaner, low-cost, domestic natural gas to power their vehicles…We have more work to do to further grow the market for natural gas vehicles, and Congress has sent a strong message today in support of more fuel diversity in the American economy.”

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.