Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Let's Roll with Natural Gas Opec's Monopoly Can Be Broken by Switching Fuel for Trucks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Let's Roll with Natural Gas Opec's Monopoly Can Be Broken by Switching Fuel for Trucks

Article excerpt

It is not news to Pennsylvanians that natural gas is about to change our lives much as oil did more than 100 years ago. In spite of the inaction or active resistance by our political leaders in Washington, it appears that the sheer volume of natural gas contained in our massive domestic shale plays is about to overwhelm the doubters and objectors and provide Americans with the first major shift in transportation since diesel replaced gasoline more than a half century ago.

Pennsylvania has not only taken the lead on the recovery of natural gas, but the Legislature is actively working to make natural gas trucks more affordable, which will increase commerce and decrease pollution.

My father used to tell me, "Son, a fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan any day." Unfortunately, when it comes to America and our effort to achieve greater energy security, we're a foolish nation without a plan.

First, let's recognize the importance of transportation to our overall foreign oil dependence problem. Transportation accounts for 70 percent of our oil use. The oil that concerns me is OPEC oil, where I'm convinced a portion of our oil dollars winds up in the hands of terrorists.

We need to focus on replacing OPEC oil/diesel with domestic natural gas in the heavy-duty truck and fleet sector. Our domestic natural gas reserves continue to expand thanks to the domestic oil and gas industry's success with horizontal drilling and fracking.

Too many people whom I've spoken with mistakenly believe the amount of oil we consume and the amount of oil we import from OPEC nations can be dramatically reduced if we would just build and operate more solar and wind farms. Oil is a very small player in the production of electricity. Electricity in the United States is largely produced using coal, nuclear, hydro and, increasingly, natural gas.

The one place we can make an immediate difference in our relationship with OPEC is to shift heavy-duty trucks -- 18- wheelers, trash and refuse, and similar vehicles -- from imported diesel to domestic natural gas. There are 8.5 million of these vehicles and most of them either return to the "barn" every night, or for over-the-road trucks, they tend to run the same routes on a regular basis. …

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