High Fuel Prices Stimulate Alt-Fuel Discussion in USA


Another busy week for the alternative fuel forum in the US. President Obama reiterated this week that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to stop rising gasoline and diesel fuel prices that are threatening US economic recovery; rather that the U.S. create alternative fuel solutions to ameliorate that impact. Obama also mooted the removal of tax breaks for oil and gas companies and the redirection of these funds (USD 4 billion) toward alt-fuel vehicle development, such as that proposed by the NAT GAS Act.

Reintroduced to Congress at the start of April the NAT GAS Act (HR 1835, S 1408) contains tax credits for manufacturers and buyers of NGVs as well as for businesses that build natural gas refueling infrastructure. The bills are expected to be voted on in May.

In other US natural gas vehicle news –

  • The City of Chicago has set up a USD 1 million federally funded Green Taxi program to reimburse cab companies for using hybrid cars or those powered by natural gas, reports the Chicago Tribune. Companies will be reimbursed $2,000 for buying hybrids, and between $9,000 and $14,000 for converting cars to compressed natural gas or propane power. Electric vehicles do not qualify under this program.
  • The Clean Vehicle Education Foundation (CVEF) says fleet owners and managers have the most to gain from using compressed natural gas (CNG) in their vehicles. They are running a workshop to educate the owners of vehicle fleets in Iowa and across the Midwest about the benefits of using CNG.
  • CVEF spokesperson Steve Yborra said Omaha-based Happy Cab Company is climbing aboard the natural gas bandwagon. Fifty taxis will be converted after Happy Cab employees are trained by the company that manufactures the system and has the appropriate federal certificates that authorize changing to the vehicles.
  • According to the US Energy Information Adminstration (IEA)’s Annual Energy Outlook 2011 released this week shale gas production continues to increase strongly through 2035 in the AEO2011 Reference case, growing almost fourfold from 2009 to 2035. While total domestic natural gas production grows from 21.0 trillion cubic feet in 2009 to 26.3 trillion cubic feet in 2035, shale gas production grows to 12.2 trillion cubic feet in 2035, when it makes up 47 percent of total U.S. production—up considerably from the 16-percent share in 2009.
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