Friday, March 27, 2009

We Have All This Gas, Let's Use It!

Change I can believe in. In these difficult economic times it makes complete sense to use America's abundant supplies of gas and convert our vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. The gas is found nearly everywhere, we have pipelines, the conversion process is relatively simple and inexpensive, the gas is the cleanest-burning fuel available, the process would create untold thousands of jobs, and generate significant revenue for local, state and Federal treasuries. Why aren't we doing this?

See what they're doing in Shreveport, Louisiana.

March 25, 2009
Lawmakers pushing LNG use in vehicles
Legislation to offer tax credits for drivers who convert vehicles.
By Mike Hasten (source)

BATON ROUGE — Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Meaux, and Rep. Jane Smith, R-Bossier City, sometimes don't agree on politics but they do agree on promoting the use of something that's plentiful in their regions — natural gas.

The two lawmakers from opposite ends of the state are pushing legislation that they say will stimulate the economy while improving the environment by utilizing compressed natural gas to power automobiles.

The bills, expected to be pre-filed later this week for the legislative session that begins April 27, offer tax credits for drivers who convert their existing gasoline-powered vehicles to run on CNG or purchase new vehicles already equipped. Also, credits are offered to filling stations that install the necessary equipment to fuel the vehicles.

"We have the opportunity in the state of Louisiana to be a national leader in this," Smith said. "We have something that's abundant, it's clean and it's American."
Smith said the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana contains enough natural gas to power vehicles for decades.

"I've been told that if a cubic foot of natural gas is the size of a basketball, in the Haynesville Shale there are 250 trillion basketballs," she said. "We're sitting here on the supply, but we lack the demand."

Smith and Gautreaux said their legislation making it more affordable to convert vehicles and install fueling stations can help create the demand.
"This would provide jobs and wean us off foreign oil so we can depend on ourselves, instead of depending on somebody else," said Gautreaux, whose district includes the Henry Hub, the nation's national gas pricing station. Also, since natural gas is clean-burning fuel, "a lot of environmental problems, especially in cities, go away."

The city of Baton Rouge, which has been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency for air quality violations, has initiated a plan to convert its fleet of vehicles to burn CNG.
The lawmakers' legislation would increase the current tax credit for purchasing "qualified clean burning motor vehicle fuel property," which includes the additional costs of purchasing an already-equipped LNG-burning vehicle, the equipment to convert a vehicle and the costs of developing property directly related to the delivery of an alternative fuel.

Smith said vehicle owners could receive a state credit of 50 percent of the cost of converting a vehicle. If it costs $5,000 to convert, $2,500 could be claimed as a tax credit, which directly lowers the amount of tax owed to the state.

Gautreaux said new vehicles built to burn natural gas are more expensive, so a credit of 10 percent or $3,000, whichever is less, could be claimed toward the difference in sales price. Current law allows a $1,500 credit.
Combined with federal government tax credits, "this could make the extra cost of buying a natural gas vehicle zero," he said.

Smith and Gautreaux say that once a vehicle is converted, drivers notice improved performance and a lower-priced fill-up.
Gautreaux said that instead of the 86 octane of regular gasoline, the octane rating of CNG is 130.
Smith said that when gasoline was selling at $4 a gallon, CNG was $1.50. It's currently selling at about $1, which Gautreaux said shows that the price is not nearly as volatile as gasoline.
And, "it's safer than gasoline," he said
Another part of the legislation grants a 50 percent tax credit on the cost of developing fuel stations, which Gautreaux and Smith said would make CNG more widely available. Some filling stations already have it available.

The legislation is supported by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
Smith and Gautreaux say they have several lawmakers who want to be co-authors when the bill is filed.
Additional Facts
According to state Rep. Jane Smith, R-Bossier City, when regular gasoline was selling for $4 a gallon, compressed natural gas only cost $1.50.

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