Bruce Kauffmann A Road to Energy Security

The cover story for the Aug./Sept, issue of American Gas magazine, “Is Now the Time for NGVs?,” makes a very persuasive case on behalf of what we at AGA think is one of the most promising new markets for natural gas—the transportation market.   Simply put, replacing petroleum-powered vehicles with increasing numbers of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on America’s roads will save America and American motorists money, it will help create more domestic jobs, and it will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we put into the air.

And by the way, it will help enhance America’s energy security and, by extension, our national security.

Start with saving motorists money.  Due to the vast amount of natural gas from shale that has been entering the domestic energy market over the past few years, natural gas is now both plentiful and competitively priced, especially compared with gasoline.  In fact, on a gallon-equivalent basis, natural costs approximately $1.50 less than gasoline.

As for saving our country money, the more dollars spent producing and using domestic natural gas, the less we spend on imports of foreign oil, which currently amounts to a staggering $1 billion per day.  Likewise, the more dollars that are spent developing the domestic natural gas industry, the more domestic jobs we create in that industry.

And of course, the more we drive cars powered by environmentally friendly natural gas the cleaner our environment.  Replacing an older, gas-powered vehicle with a newer NGV can reduce NOx emissions by 75-95 percent and CO2 emissions by 20-20 percent.

As for enhancing our energy security, it is well known that America is overly dependent on oil imports from nations that are, to varying degrees, corrupt, authoritarian, unstable, and have little or no sympathy for America’s values or national interests.  That threatens both our energy security and our national security.

So imagine if we were able to displace significant amounts of this imported oil—90 percent of which is used in the transportation market—with natural gas.  The way to achieve that goal is to put more NGVs on the road.

Of course there are challenges, including producing NGVs in numbers that will make their initial cost more comparable to the cost of gas-powered vehicles, while simultaneously developing a nationwide re-fueling infrastructure.   Meeting these challenges will involve a significant financial investment, an industry-wide commitment and, at least initially, some measure of government support.   But as this month’s cover story suggests, and as accompanying articles by Rich Kolodziej of NGV America and Kathryn Clay of the new Drive Natural Gas Initiative clearly reinforce, the economic argument for NGVs is compelling, the environmental benefits are substantial, the energy security argument is undeniable, and the technology to cost-effectively produce both NGVs and a nationwide NGV re-fueling infrastructure is advancing rapidly.

In other words, to the question “Is Now the Time for NGVs?” the answer is yes.

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