State Called Alternative Fuels Leader

Article excerpt

State Called Alternative Fuels Leader

By Jessica Danker

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Use of alternative fuels is important to improve this nation's energy security, and Oklahoma is working hard to raise support for the industry.

Oklahoma is a leading state in efforts to increase the presence of alternative fuels in the transportation market, an official from the U.S. Department of Energy said earlier this week.

Increased usage of alternative fuels is needed in order to help decrease this nation's dependence on foreign oil, said William Jernigan, transportation program manager for the agency's Dallas office.

Jernigan spoke at a meeting of the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition of Oklahoma in Tulsa.

In 1994, 50 percent of the petroleum used in the United States was imported. U.S. petroleum imports totaled 3.26 billion barrels, according to the statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy. The nation consumed 6.45 billion barrels during the year.

Almost two-thirds of the oil consumed in the United States is used in transportation, Jernigan said. In transportation, 97 percent of the energy used is petroleum, he said.

"So the objective is to attack the higher percentage with alternative fuel sources. Those are compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas, or propane," Jernigan said.

Not only is the percentage of imports on an "upward" trend, but so is the price for the oil.

According to Jernigan, $51 billion, or 31 percent, of the U.S. trade deficit in 1994 is attributed to crude oil and petroleum products.

While the amount of U.S. oil imports seems to be continuing, the alternative fuels industry is working on the issue of energy security, he said.

"The industry itself is attempting to promote the deployments (of alternative fuel vehicles.) Federal, state and local governments are working to encourage expansion of the industry," Jernigan said.

The Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition of Oklahoma was formed last year by members of the state's natural gas industry and also representatives from local government to help promote the industry on the state level.

"Oklahoma has had a statutory policy, comparatively early, in the effort to introduce alternative fuel," Jernigan said.

Oklahoma's state alternative fuels program was created in 1990 by House Bill 2169. The program administers a loan fund program for governmental entities and tests, and certifies alternative fuels technicians. …