ANNAPOLIS – Supporters of a bill that would give tax credits to Marylanders who purchase alternative fuel vehicles said Tuesday that the measure would create a market for clean fuel.
But service station owners from around the state lined the walls of the House Ways and Means Committee room in opposition, arguing that the market should be left alone.
“We do not oppose the use of alternative fuels,” Drew Cobbs of the Maryland Petroleum Council told the committee. “We do believe that fuels should compete freely in the market.”
The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, would help businesses comply with federal clean air initiatives requiring the gradual adoption of clean-fuel vehicles.
For the next three years, companies would get a dollar of tax credit for every dollar spent on one of the vehicles, Steve Larsen, spokesman for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, said of the Taylor bill. Glendening supports the measure.
Several gas and propane companies testified that incentives would create a clean-fuel market across the state.
“This is not just a metropolitan issue, it is a cosmopolitan issue,” said Roger Redding of Columbia Gas.
Opponents contended that the measure pays people to comply with the law.
Jeff Folks of Crown Central Petroleum Corp. said the bill would “shift cost of the federal mandate to state taxpayers.”
But Don Milsten, director of the state Energy Administration, said the bill does more than respond to federal law.
“We’re after clean air,” Milsten said, adding that if the state can’t target transportation, officials will have to look to such stationary sources of pollution as bakeries, dry cleaners and other industries.
Some opponents said retailers have already incurred many costs to clean the air and large businesses should pay their share.
Cobbs noted that fuel retailers had installed special nozzles on gas pumps to control the evaporation of vapors, a process that cost $50 million.
The tax credit bill is supported by Del. James Rosapepe, D- Prince George’s, vice chairman of the committee.
“It’s a good bill,” Rosapape said. “Moving toward clean- burning fuels is important for cleaning the air.” -30-