The establishment of natural-gas stations along the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other incentives to increase the consumption of natural gas in Pennsylvania are being advocated by the state house Republican caucus as the "Marcellus Works" initiative.

Legislative action on any of the provisions in the recently unveiled proposal is likely off until the next legislative session, which begins in January 2011.

"Some of the elements of it could be tied to a debate on transportation funding, yet this year," said Andrew Ritter, an aide to the house Republican Policy Committee. "But the probability is they will be taken up next session."

That likelihood is a near certainty since, following the elections, Republicans will hold at least 111 seats in the 203-member house in 2011.

The Marcellus Works plan includes four key components that were outlined in a statement released by the caucus:

  1. Transition State Vehicles to Clean Natural Gas

Currently, Pennsylvania has more than 16,000 vehicles in its state fleet. Transitioning the state fleet to clean natural-gas vehicles would greatly reduce the state's reliance on oil and may create a tremendous demand for the natural gas available in Pennsylvania.

  1. Provide Tax Credits for Clean Natural-Gas Vehicles and Infrastructure

Providing tax credits to private entities that convert their fleets to clean natural gas and to public and private entities that construct and use clean natural-gas fueling stations would provide another incentive for the use of Pennsylvania's abundant supply of clean natural gas. The Marcellus Works plan would also provide incentives to create a clean natural-gas infrastructure, including natural-gas filling stations and storage tanks. 

  1. Government Conversion Grants

Local governments across Pennsylvania also have fleets comprising hundreds of cars, trucks and other equipment. The Marcellus Works plan would provide incentive grants to local governments to encourage them to convert those fleets to clean natural-gas vehicles.

In addition, the "Marcellus Works" plan would provide incentive grants to encourage mass transit systems to convert their fleets to clean natural gas, reducing their reliance on oil and increasing demand for the clean natural gas that can be produced in Pennsylvania.

  1. Clean Natural-Gas Stations on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The Marcellus Works proposal would make the Pennsylvania Turnpike a "clean natural gas corridor" across the state by constructing clean natural-gas stations at every-other service station. Making clean natural gas available along the turnpike would encourage its use by the millions of drivers who regularly use it. In addition, it would potentially create thousands of jobs for people who would construct and operate the stations.

"The Marcellus Shale industry produced $389 million in state and local tax revenue in 2009 alone, and is expected to pay close to $800 million this year," said Stan Saylor (R-York), chairman of the house Republican Policy Committee. "Our plan would use a portion of that revenue to create thousands of jobs."