Utah Shifts to CNG

While gasoline prices have fallen in recent weeks, they still hover near $3.47 per gallon in many parts of Southern Utah. Motorists with sharp eyes probably have noted, however, that compressed natural gas (CNG) costs only about $1.50 per gallon.

That’s a huge difference, casting a spotlight on the cheaper alternative fuel that is growing in popularity and, perhaps, could be the key to making the United States more energy independent.

The Spectrum & Daily News published a story Sunday that provided some information about CNG vehicles and how some Southern Utah residents have put vehicles that run on CNG to work for them. The key point of the story was to point out an alternative fuel that is gaining momentum in the western United States.

In Utah alone, about 40 stations have added CNG to the fueling options, with most of them located along the Interstate 15 corridor. Four of them are in the St. George area, and Cedar City has one. Other stations can be found in Panguitch, Price and Vernal. On the other hand, Oregon, Colorado and New Mexico — states with “green” reputations — have only two, 15 and four, respectively.

According to the Natural Gas Vehicles for America coalition, about 120,000 natural gas vehicles are traveling on U.S. roads with more joining the ranks every day. That demand has driven the cost up from about 67 cents per gallon just a few years ago, but the expense to refill a tank is still remarkably less than traditional petroleum.

CNG just may be the way to wean the United States off the volatility — both regarding price and in terms of dangers in the Middle East — that comes with foreign oil. Some energy experts believe there are large enough quantities of natural gas to fuel our vehicles for more than a century.

That fuel would be more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum-burning engines and could mean a dramatic reduction in reliance on foreign oil. Take the oil out of the equation, and the United States has fewer reasons to bow to the whims of Middle East countries who make their living selling fuel to our nation.

And making a switch to bi-fuel vehicles — which still have the ability to burn petroleum as well as CNG — will buy the nation time for generations to develop new technologies that rely on renewable fuels instead of finite fossil fuels.
More effort should be made to shift the U.S. auto industry and related industries such as refueling stations to CNG.

This article was first published by The Spectrum.

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