The natural gas vehicle (NGV) industry was in the spotlight last week, making headlines after U.S. President Barak Obama’s remarks in his annual State of the Union address in support of switching more cars and trucks from oil to natural gas:
…natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change...I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas.
In addition, three bills were proposed last week by U.S. Representatives Lee Terry and Sam Graves, both Republican Congressmen, geared at increasing the number of natural gas trucks. The bills propose multiple measures to increase the adoption rate of natural gas including: designated natural gas fueling corridors for long haul traffic, truck weight exemptions for the additional weight of natural gas tanks, and a task force to evaluate duel adoption transition barriers.
While these bills have to go through multiple stages before they can be voted on in Congress, Paul Kerkhoven, Director, Government Relations of NGVAmerica, says the initiatives may end up being incorporated into more comprehensive legislation, such as the Highway Bill.
“Anytime the President says natural gas three times, it’s a good thing for the industry,” Paul says. “These developments indicate a heightened interest in increasing the discussion at the national level around how to encourage a switch from gasoline or diesel, to natural gas.”
Paul adds both Congressmen Terry and Graves are strong NGV supporters and his organization is working with them to further their ideas and efforts towards the increasing use of NGVs.
Some industry supporters are eager for immediate action. T. Boone Pickens, Founder of BP Capital and the Pickens Fuel Corp. – the predecessor company to Clean Energy – told Pickens Plan Facebook page followers that the President should “Sign an executive order mandating government vehicles use natural gas, and that those who contract with the federal government for goods and services do, too.”
Paul says national-level attention puts the cause in the spotlight:
“The industry has done a good job of education and increasing awareness. People are concentrating on it and looking at it – it’s always a good thing.”