Natural Gas: America's Economic Secret Weapon

Michael Carter is from Norwalk. He graduated from Fairfield Prep last year and is currently a freshman at College of the Holy Cross.

Written By Michael Carter.

If our households can run off natural gas, then why can’t our automobiles?

Last November, Governor Malloy proposed the SB 843 bill in Connecticut in order to provide “cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy to consumers and businesses” (Yale Daily News). He envisioned 300,000 more households utilizing natural gas instead of heating oil within their homes.

Officially one year later, the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) has approved this natural gas utility plan, hoping that families who convert to natural gas will save money over time and simultaneously help the environment. I urge our national government to employ Governor Molloy’s initiative as a starting block in order to revolutionize the future of the automobile industry. Let’s channel this momentum and convert our transportation vehicles, as well.

Currently in the United States, we are more abundant in natural gas than any other country in the world. Our new technological innovations for drilling natural gas in shale deposits will supply our country with enough natural gas for over 100 years (PickensPlan). On an energy-equivalent basis, natural gas is also 80 percent cheaper than the price of oil, and costs from $1.50 to $2.00 less per gasoline gallon equivalent (AEIdeas, NGV America). Thus, converting our transportation vehicles to natural gas will also decrease our dependance upon foreign oil. Spending less money overseas will in turn allow our nation to invest more money domestically. Automobile industries would benefit from the conversion to natural gas because it will open up more jobs within this field specifically. We should utilize this advantageous resource to benefit our economy as a whole. 

Other than individual families saving money and jobs opening up to convert vehicles to natural gas, the federal government would also benefit from this transition. For example, the United States Postal Services would benefit from the conversion of commercial trucks to use natural gas. Due to deep amounts of debt, Postal Services have considered canceling Saturday deliveries. On average, it costs around $10,000 to equip a vehicle to run completely on natural gas (Source Gas). This investment would be worth it due to the money saved over time, rather than such an extreme solution like cutting Saturday mail deliveries. If the government could perhaps include incentives to encourage people to make this change, our economy would benefit greatly, as commercial trucking is used to transport goods from one location to another throughout the country. Businesses would then save money on shipping, which would ease inflation and balance our economy. Natural gas also produces “22 to 29 percent less greenhouse gas emissions” than regular diesel fuel, and is 30 percent cleaner than gasoline (PickensPlan). For how much more affordable and cleaner natural gas is for the environment, it would be to our advantage for the government to encourage these conversions for transportation.

An issue with this proposal is that most vehicle fueling stations in the United States do not have natural gas. Currently in the United States there are only 1,300 natural gas vehicle filling stations, but the amount of stations continue to rise every year. But with natural gas refueling appliances for your garage, we don’t need to wait for the nation to build more fueling stations. The appliance Phill can fill your vehicles natural gas tank overnight as you sleep, and only costs $500 (CNG Now!). Some automobile industries, such as Ford, have addressed this issue as well by creating automobiles that can run on both natural gas and oil. To convert a vehicle so it has a bi-fuel fueling source, it costs about $2,000 (CarsDirect).

The time is now to chart a new course and invest for our country’s energy needs. In the United States “there are about 135,000 natural gas vehicles” and “more than 15.2 million worldwide” (NGV America). I propose that we control our own destiny and revolutionize the Carter !2 fueling market by investing in our own domestic production of fuel. Future conflict in the Middle  East could destabilize oil prices, throwing the world economy into a tail spin. Because we are fortunate enough to have an abundance of natural gas, we would be foolish to not utilize it like other international countries or push towards modernizing our fueling stations for the sake of more affordable transportation, a cleaner environment, and a more balanced economy.

Michael Carter is from Norwalk. He graduated from Fairfield Prep last year and is currently a freshman at College of the Holy Cross. 


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