Natural Gas Coming to a Station Near You?

Naturalgasgi

It began with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens' proposal to move natural gas use from power generation to the transportation sector. Now both Republicans and Democrats are jumping on the bandwagon.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) have both introduced legislation that would offer tax credits and other incentives to gas stations that offer natural gas as a fuel, as well as tax breaks to automakers to build the cars that would run on it.

Proponents of switching to natural gas as an automotive fuel point out that the price is about half that of gasoline and it burns much cleaner. Natural gas emits about one-third fewer emissions than regular gasoline.

This is the point where an independent media must say: Not so fast.

Yes, natural gas is cheap now, but it is a finite resource and a fossil fuel — just like oil. The more cars began to rely on natural gas for fuel, the larger the demand would become and the higher the price would likely climb. The price increase would also be passed on to those who use natural gas to heat their homes. Within a few years, we could find ourselves relying on imported natural gas from Russia to keep up with demand.

Furthermore, there's no infrastructure to use natural gas as a transportation fuel. This would have to be built from scratch and would require major investment, when it’s becoming clear that electric vehicles and fuel-efficient hybrids are the direction the auto industry is headed.

As most analysts have pointed out, it makes more sense to switch power generation to renewable resources like wind, solar and geothermal, then plug electric cars into this clean, efficient grid. While natural gas may be an improvement on oil when it comes to current cost and emissions, it’s still picking one poison over another.

Two Proposals in U.S. Congress to Increase Use of Natural Gas as Transportation Fuel (Green Car Congress)

Comments 

WestPhillyForever

I guess we'll just wait and see whose lobbyists are the "most convincing."

markt

dumbest idea ever. but then again our government is full of dumb ideas. when you break down the nuts and bolts of this "plan" your trading one fossil fuel for another. i dont understand why politicians are so afraid of wind, solar and nuclear energy.

otd66

I'm excited about CNG as a vehicle fuel. I help operate a small fleet of CNG vehicles (22 of them!) and I think they're great. Nearly 80% of the most harmful byproducts of burning gasoline are non-existent, and the engine oil stays clean for a lot longer, since the contaminants are so much less. There's already an infrastructure all around us... how many towns and cities in the U.S. don't have natural gas lines in their streets, heating homes and businesses? You don't see many hydrogen gas lines in the streets, do you? Utilities like PECO Energy have had CNG stations and can't get anyone to use them! Why? It didn't get pushed like the "hydrogen" economy - no media buzz. I can't wait till hydrogen is a reality, but until then I'll be happy to use CNG as one of many solutions to our dependence on liquid petroleum, and a cleaner environment. It's never going to be one answer to our energy problems. It's going to be many answers. By the way, when was the last time anyone plowed snow with a hybrid or electric vehicle? We plow snow with CNG!

GR

We just had an item in the news that our natural gas rates will be increasing 35-40%. Northwest Natural Gas had a GIGANTIC media campaign to get as many people as possible to switch from their "expensive to operate" electric furnaces, water heaters, and cooktops to "inexpensive to operate" natural gas items. They offered great discounts on the appliances and we were even given tax credits. Now they say they can't meet demand and have to raise the rates 40%. I can't see where using natural gas to fuel automobiles in the Northwest would be any help to anyone economically. Perhaps a smidgen of particulate matter may be saved from the atmosphere.

Red

Natural gas works as a transportation fuel, and is much cleaner, but is too precious to burn in vehicles. Natural gas should be saved for home heating and high-efficiency electricity generation. Today's home furnaces are 90 percent efficient, whereas an internal combustion engine is only 15 to 20 percent efficient. It would be better to burn natural gas in a 70 percent efficient combined-cycle electricity generation plant and then use the juice to charge batteries in plug-in hybrid or all electric vehicles.

cody

As many have pointed out, we need to diversify our fuels. Diesel, natural gas, bio-fuel, hybrids, etc. is a good way to do it. There is no singular solution.

Eddie

Your post states that there's no infrastructure to use natural gas as a transportation fuel and any attempt would require major investment. However, I know of a company called Energtek which removes this problem completely through the use of their Low Pressure Mobile Pipelines. This allows for the delivery of Natural Gas to customers in hard to reach places. Also, it greatly reduces the cost as building a pipeline is quite expensive. The company has also developed a technology called "Absorbed Natural Gas" to provide clean and affordable gas to millions of people across Southeast Asia (particularly in 2-3 wheel vehicles.)I saw them on Fox Business news in April and it looks like a company that can really do great things.

Natural gas is a great alternative and with companies like Energtek, it is a truly viable option.

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