State lawmakers have supported a set of bills promoting natural gas as an alternative fuel and urging more drilling — but there's no money on the table to make the bills meaningful. The Senate Natural Resources Committee has endorsed the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Revolving Loan Fund Program, which would be placed within the Department of Natural Resources. In theory, this fund would provide financial assistance to local governments to help them convert their current fleet of vehicles to clean fuel vehicles. There's only one glaring problem with Senate Bill 103: there's no money available for the fund. "There's no state appropriation for this," says Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette. "But we're looking around for something. Right now, we can just go ahead and have the fund ready."
There is already some evidence the federal government might be willing to pony up for the cause. Part of the federal stimulus package unveiled last year included millions of dollars for Louisiana to introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel. The Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group has a state contract to convert mass transit and school buses to CNG.