Policies and incentives that encourage existing travel center operators to invest in alternative fuels represents the most effective way to encourage consumers to transition to those fuels, a NATSO representative from Love's Travel Stops testified before a House panel Oct. 23.
JP Fjeld-Hansen, vice president and managing director of Musket and Trillium, Love's' supply, trading, logistics and alternative fuel arms, testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change that leveraging existing infrastructure and refueling sites coupled with policies that make it profitable for such businesses to invest in alternative fuels is the most effective way to bring alternative fuels to market.
The hearing marked the fourth in a series of climate change hearings by the Committee with a focus on building a “clean economy” by 2050. Specifically, this hearing focused on reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said in his opening remarks that, “Any suggestion that policy plays no role in spurring American industry to innovate new technologies willfully ignores the last half century of American progress.”
“For decades, under laws such as the Clean Air Act, the federal government and State leaders have set ambitious standards that spur industry to develop solutions …,” Rep. Pallone said. “That same formula will work for many aspects of addressing the climate crisis, including in the transportation sector.”
In addition to Fjeld-Hansen, witnesses included Jeremy Baines, President, Neste US. Inc.; Emily Wimberger, Climate Economist, Rhodium Group; Wayne Eckerle, Vice President, Research and Technology, Cummins, Inc.; Adrian Martinez, Staff Attorney, Earthjustice; Fred Felleman, Commissioner, Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance; and Timothy A. Blubaugh, Executive Vice President, Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association. Their testimony can be found here.
NATSO supports policies that incentivize its members to invest in alternative fuels, and the travel plaza and truckstop community is making significant investments in this regard. During the hearing, Fjeld-Hansen testified that current policies have prompted fuel retailers such as Love's to invest in electric vehicle charging, natural gas, hydrogen and biodiesel.
“In the current political and policymaking landscape, it is tempting to focus solely on how we want the world to look in 10, 20 or 30 years. By building on existing policies and infrastructure, we can improve the transportation sector’s emission footprint in the short term while also considering more long-term solutions,” Fjeld-Hansen testified. “Once a regulatory and incentive system is in place that makes alternative fuels cost competitive – whatever the fuels may be – the private sector will bring those fuels to market most effectively.”
Fjeld-Hansen specifically highlighted recent partnerships between Trillium and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as well as Miami-Dade County in Florida to construct and operate compressed natural gas refueling stations that combined serve more than 2,200 transit buses. Among its many alternative fueling projects, Trillium also designs, builds and operates heavy-duty hydrogen refueling stations to run public transportation buses.
Fjeld-Hansen further encouraged lawmakers to prohibit regulated public utilities from using rate payer dollars to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Allowing public utilities to unfairly compete against the private sector by utilizing rate payer dollars to make such investments will effectively destroy the incentive for private sector investment, he testified.
“This is precisely what public utilities are trying to do right now in a number of states throughout the country,” Fjeld-Hansen testified. “If they are successful, it would not only preclude companies such as Love’s from participating in that market, it would cement in place stagnant technologies and fueling solutions that at the end of the day will not get consumers what they want.”
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