Did you see gasoline prices at the pump hit almost $4 recently? Earlier in the year experts projected that we’d see it go as high as $5 this summer – and summer is definitely not over.
Depending on how often you fill your gas tank, driving back and forth to work, the grocery store, daycare – just the basics – can add up quickly. (We budget at least $300 a month for gasoline in our household, with only one car and a small child keeping us at home most evenings.)
Imagine having a fleet of vehicles that have massive tanks to fill (dump trucks, ambulances, school buses, tractor trailers, snowplows). That would add up quickly – and does – for the state of Indiana and public and private businesses of all types here.
The point is: gas is expensive; diesel is expensive. And, neither are the cleanest fuel options available. But, is there another legitimate option? Possibly.
State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) is leading the charge for compressed natural gas as an alternative. During the recent Clean Energy Summit held at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Frye invited Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition Executive Director Kellie Walsh to present information to a group that included representatives from a number of utility and energy organizations.
Walsh’s presentation highlighted the fact that 80-90% of natural gas is produced domestically.
Some other interesting facts:
- Natural gas is not a threat to soil, surface water or groundwater; its nontoxic, noncorrosive and non-carcinogenic
- It has lower ozone-forming emissions than gasoline
- Most natural gas is drawn from wells or in conjunction with crude oil production and can come from subsurface porous rock and shale
- Natural gas powers about 112,000 vehicles in the country and roughly 14.8 million worldwide and has been used as a transportation fuel for over 30 years
- Compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas are considered alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992
Frye told Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick that the state could save around $200 million in fuel costs over a 10-year period by switching vehicles to compressed natural gas. He intends to work on legislation to incentivize the switch, he says.
While the natural gas seems to be there for the taking, there is not much infrastructure in place to support it: filling stations would have to be built; fleets would need to be retrofitted with natural gas engines (which Cummins makes already, by the way).
This just scratches the surface of the positives and negatives of natural gas; most likely it will be a story that we follow in the near future.