Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Drive to Convert Vehicles to Natural Gas Makes Way to Washington

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Drive to Convert Vehicles to Natural Gas Makes Way to Washington

Article excerpt

T. Boone Pickens has traveled across the country promoting the idea.

Aubrey McClendon likes it, too.

And the boys at UPS have already done their part.

With the memory of $4-per-gallon gas still vivid and the state home to two of the country's largest natural gas producers, the drive to convert vehicles from unleaded to compressed natural gas, also known as CNG, is gaining traction - both locally and across the country.

This week that effort got a boost as congressional hearings began on energy and climate change legislation. In Washington, lawmakers studied the issue while natural gas proponents, industry leaders and environmentalists all issued calls for fleets of "greener" vehicles.

The goal, the groups said, was to change the way Americans think about transportation fuel.

"As Congress holds hearings this week on energy and climate change legislation, I am encouraged that policymakers are considering the pivotal role of the transportation sector, which is responsible for 30 percent of U.S. carbon emissions," said Rod Lowman, president of America's Natural Gas Alliance. "And natural gas vehicles are an essential part of the solution to reducing emissions."

Using natural gas to fuel vehicles, Lowman said, would present a great opportunity for Americans.

"Abundant, American natural gas is the cleanest alternative transportation fuel commercially available today," Lowman said in a media release. "It presents a great opportunity for the U.S. to curb carbon emissions in the transportation sector, while enhancing energy security, a fact supported by testimony this week in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Committee on Energy and Natural Resources."

In some markets that conversion has already begun.

In March, AT&T announced it would replace its 8,000 service vans with natural-gas-powered vehicles. The $350 million change, company officials said, was part of AT&T's half-a-billion alternative-fuel vehicle initiative.

"When the price of gas rises at the pump by a cent and you're buying about 80 million gallons of fuel a year, it gets pretty expensive," AT&T's Jerome Webber, told Business Week magazine. …

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