By Zach Koppang | Shale Plays Media
In a land speckled with oil rigs, light refracts through the shimmering flames of natural gas vents and shines through rolls of bureaucratic red-tape, revealing a growing energy trend.
With the continued advancement of the natural gas industry and its continued venting into the atmosphere, private and commercial entities alike are refining the ways the resource is being used.
Many companies, working to offset their carbon footprints, have been employing fleets of natural gas powered vehicles, also known as NGVs. As the practice of hydraulic fracturing continues to grow, so does the use of natural gas an alternative and cleaner burning fuel source.
Earlier this month Penske Truck Rental announced that 85 compressed natural gas (CNG) Freightliner Cascadia tractors would be made available for rental within certain regional markets. The day cab tractors, equipped with Cummins Wesport 12-liter engines, will allow their customers to test the vehicles in the field, experiencing them first hand, helping them decide how they may affect their business overall.
Don Mike, Senior Vice President of Penske, stated that “an increasing number of customers have expressed a desire to evaluate natural gas vehicles to see if they make sense as part of their overall fleet strategy.” If the customer chooses to seek a more permanent solution, Penske stated they will offer easy transitions into full-service leasing.
While Penske plans to offer rentals, other major companies such as AT&T have been working hard to reach their decade-long goal of having a fleet of 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles. Earlier this month, with a resounding cry of “Full speed ahead”, the company announced the deployment of their 8,000th compressed natural gas vehicle, a major milestone in their sustainability initiative.
Despite the increasing use of NGVs within the corporate sector, the public remains largely unaware of this growing trend. Recently, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a senior member of the Environmental and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), introduced the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Deployment Act, a bill which hopes to create incentives for the production and purchase of natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicles.
Inhofe recognized in a statement that “The booming natural gas industry in America is delivering a cheap, domestic energy source for our homes and businesses, but this fuel source is being underutilized in our vehicles.”
The legislation will aim to offer incentives to auto makers to bring NGVs to the market by streamlining the rules and regulations auto makers must currently adhere to. Government provisions such as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program, first enacted by Congress in 1975, were originally intended to reduce energy consumption by increasing fuel economy.
However, the program currently has caps placed on the number of credits an automaker can receive for the production of alternative fuel vehicles. The majority of these credits are being used for the production of E85 Flex-Fuel vehicles leaving little incentive, if any, for the production of NGVs and other alternative fuel vehicles.
Natural Gas Vehicles for America president Richard Kolodziej has since hailed Inhofe’s work, saying he “continues to be a champion for the NGV industry by introducing legislation that will encourage both automakers and vehicle purchasers to put more NGVs on American roads.”
Despite the bureaucratic red tape and the subversive shifts in trends, the increased use of NGVs is growing along with the nation’s natural gas industry. It’s Kolodziej’s hope that “the increased use of domestic natural gas in our transportation sector brings a number of policy benefits, including reduced tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions, reduced dependence on foreign oil and the growth of U.S. jobs.”