Wicker Leads Bipartisan Group in Introducing the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Act

October 20, 2009

WASHINGTON – Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., today joined Reps. Dan Boren, D-Okla., and Rep. Heath Shuler., D-N.C., in announcing the introduction of the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act.  This legislation seeks to simplify and streamline the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions certification process for aftermarket fuel conversion systems. 

The bill addresses the need to overhaul the EPA emission certification process which effectively prohibits car owners from legally converting a car to a bi-fuel operation.  Bi-fuel operation allows a car to switch back and forth from either gasoline or alternative fuel such as propane or natural gas.
 “A year ago our country was in the midst of an energy crisis.  Mississippians were paying nearly four dollars for a gallon of gasoline and utility bills were skyrocketing.  Our energy problems have not gone away, and the early signs of a similar situation are already resurfacing,” said Sen. Wicker.  “We need to make it easier for people to find relief from high and often unstable gas prices by using technology and alternative fuels.  This bill will remove some cumbersome hurdles from that process.”   

Sen. Inhofe said, “Our bill makes critical changes so that vehicle conversions can become a commonplace option for all Americans. By simplifying this compliance process, we will not only incentivize conversion manufacturers to offer more systems for additional vehicle makes and models, but will eventually reduce the costs of these conversion systems for interested car owners – perhaps by hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  Ultimately, this legislation will allow Americans to choose whether propane or natural gas powered vehicles are right for their own individual and business needs while simultaneously preserving the country’s stringent emission standards.  The promise of natural gas and propane as mainstream transportation fuels is achievable today, not 15 or 20 years from now, and this bill will help make that happen.”

Rep. Boren said, “There is growing momentum for the increased use of natural gas as a cheaper, cleaner, and domestically abundant alternative to traditional transportation fuel from foreign sources.  This legislation would clear many of the regulatory hurdles that hinder the conversion of public and private fleets to natural gas technology.  These conversions present a real opportunity for communities, tribes, and other organizations, to lower transportation costs, cut harmful emissions, and reduce our nation’s reliance on foreign oil all while supporting an American-made product.  I am honored to join Congressman Heath Shuler on this legislation in the U.S. House, and I thank Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator Roger Wicker for carrying it in the Senate.”

“Making it easier to convert vehicles to natural gas or propane will reduce the price of gasoline for all consumers,” said Rep. Shuler.  “Because America has an abundant supply of natural gas and produces more than 90 percent of the propane we use, this bill represents a commonsense approach to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.”

The Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act has five changes to assist in the EPA emission certification process:

  • It eliminates the need for subsequent yearly recertification after a system has already been certified, making it no longer necessary to resubmit data to EPA for a system that has not changed.
  • It directs the EPA to establish criteria that would cover several different yet similar vehicle makes, models and model years on a single certificate of conformity using the test data from a single vehicle. 
  • It instructs the EPA to allow the submission of previous testing data if a vehicle or the conversion system has not changed in a way which would affect compliance. 
  • It directs the EPA to promulgate regulations to help conversion system manufacturers comply with potentially difficult on-board diagnostics (OBD) requirements and compatibility. 
  • It clarifies the treatment of vehicles which are beyond their useful life as defined by the EPA as long as the conversion system manufacturer or the converter is able to demonstrate that the emissions would not worsen due to a conversion.