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Moving our nation’s trucks to natural gas makes economic and environmental sense. This market currently consumes 30 billion gallons of diesel annually, much of which is imported. A conversion to natural gas could represent huge savings for shippers, carriers and eventually consumers, given the high cost of diesel. For those concerned about the environment, NGVs emit up to 30 percent less greenhouse gas than gasoline or diesel vehicles.
But while the industry is capable of and willing to do much of the heavy lifting, it is imperative that we have the support of community leaders, lawmakers and public policies to continue to grow our infrastructure and encourage further development.
The federal government can lead by example and transition its large fleet of vehicles to natural gas, like many local and state governments are already doing with great success.
Congress is starting to answer the call by looking to update the federal transportation tax that currently taxes cleaner, American LNG at a higher rate than dirtier, foreign diesel. It can also extend the Volumetric Excise Tax Credit for multiple years to enable businesses to plan with long-term certainty and offer tax incentives for companies to purchase trucks running on American natural gas rather than foreign diesel.
Many bipartisan leaders in Congress have recognized the potential of natural gas as a transportation fuel in America. The United States has been called the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” It’s inconceivable to be sitting on a resource of this size and to not be using it to its full political, economic and environmental advantage here in this country.
We are a forward-looking country, and natural gas is certainly our fuel for the future, and that future is now.
Andrew J. Littlefair is president and CEO of Clean Energy Fuels Corp. based in Seal Beach, Calif.