There is no doubt that this is an emerging market and that CNG has the potential to be America’s future fuel source. However, the question remains, if CNG is clean, abundant, and cost-effective to buy – why aren’t more people using it as a vehicular fuel source yet?
The answer is unquestionably that our country has an enormous investment in the current petroleum-based fuel infrastructure. Not only do we have an enormous network of petroleum fuel stations and storage in place, it is what we as a nation are used to using for vehicular fuel. Replacing or supplementing the existing infrastructure with CNG fuel stations and storage systems takes a significant commitment by the producers, distributors, and end users alike. It will require a monetary investment as well as a leap of faith by all parties to ensure success in energy independence. But it’s well worth it.
It is a question of what comes first – the infrastructure or the vehicles? The chicken or the egg? How can distributors afford to invest in costly equipment when there are about 150,000 NGVs on the roads in America today? How can drivers justify a conversion to CNG or purchasing a new vehicle when there are fewer than 1100 CNG fueling stations in the US? The answer is both must come together: America needs an egg & chicken omelet to make this work. We must start in the middle and grow outward. The good news is that we are growing. The NGV count in the United States has grown by about 30,000 in since 2012 and station numbers are on the rise as well, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center. More and more heavy duty fleets are converting to natural gas and light duty use is on the rise as well. Change is happening now! And Pennsylvania has the capacity to be at the heart of nationwide change.
Pennsylvania is part of an area known affectionately as the “rust belt,” or the states of the Midwestern and Northeastern United States. This area earned the title of the rust belt by being one of the top three manufacturing regions in the world. The people of the rust belt are proud, hard-working folks who have never in the past waited for someone else to determine their future. We are capable of making that happen again. Sitting on top of the world’s 2nd largest supply of shale gas, Pennsylvania can once again be the keystone of energy independence for America. We simply must invest together to realize the enormous cost savings, job growth potential, and energy independence available to us.