VNG.CO, a natural gas fueling station developer with a stated goal to create a national CNG fueling network across the United States, has submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation and the California Air Resources Board, outlining a vision for ways in which natural gas vehicles (NGVs) can provide long-term fuel cost savings for light-duty vehicle drivers while delivering game-changing reductions in greenhouse emissions and petroleum dependency – particularly for light trucks and pickups.
VNG.CO explains these comments address significant omissions in the Draft Technical Assessment Report (TAR) recently released by the agencies, which focuses almost entirely on progress with gasoline and electric vehicles while missing the dramatic transformations already underway for NGVs.
The potential benefits of NGVs can be grouped under four major headings:
NGVs Are An Ideal Alternative for Light Trucks: Pickups and other light trucks account for over 50% of light-duty vehicle sales, but there are not expected to be any electric pickups for the foreseeable future due to the weight and cost added by battery systems. By contrast, NGVs are a proven low-emission alternative for pickups, and leading NGV manufacturers are pursuing engine designs to yield even lower emissions and greater efficiency by taking advantage of the high-octane, clean-burning properties of compressed natural gas (CNG).
Game-Changing Emissions from Renewable Natural Gas: In the past five years, renewable natural gas (RNG) captured from landfills, dairy farms, and wastewater plants has gone from a niche fuel to providing over 35% of NGV fueling nationally and over 60% of NGV fueling in California – and these figures are expected to continue to rise. Like other forms of renewable energy, RNG provides ultra-low lifecycle greenhouse emissions, with reductions of 70% to 130% compared to gasoline.
Synergies With Hydrogen: Hydrogen is a compressed, gaseous fuel like CNG, and there are many synergies between the development of the NGV market and the nascent market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These synergies include fuel storage tank development, refueling station design and equipment manufacturing, and shared pathways for the production and use of RNG as well as “power-to-gas” applications that can turn solar and wind power into synthetic gaseous fuels.
Ability to Address Used Vehicles: Because conventional gasoline-fueled vehicles can be converted to CNG at any point in their life, there is a unique opportunity for regulators to reduce emissions and petroleum consumption from used vehicles. Older vehicles are generally the most polluting and least fuel-efficient vehicles on the road, and retrofitting these vehicles for CNG is a huge untapped opportunity to deliver greater benefits than regulations focusing on new vehicles alone.
VNG Chief Operating Officer Robert Friedman said, “Despite rising U.S. oil production, petroleum dependence is still a huge threat to American consumers and businesses, and a constant drumbeat of record-breaking global temperatures and extreme weather events has underscored the urgency of addressing climate change in the near term, not the long term. Our mission at VNG is to help our country move to a more sustainable, secure transportation fueling mix today by leveraging the unique abilities of NGVs to contribute to these goals – particularly for gas-guzzling pickups, light trucks, and older vehicles already on our roads.”
John Atkinson, VNG’s Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs, added, “As a leading developer of light-duty oriented CNG fueling stations at existing gasoline stations, VNG is eager to work with regulators to bring greater recognition of these benefits in the final TAR – as well as stronger incentives to promote them in the subsequent rulemaking process.”