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America’s “it” fuel – so says a Tulsa civic leader in a July 2009 Tulsa World editorial about natural gas. David Page says natural gas and CNG lead us on a path toward jobs and energy independence. Our oil and natural gas producers certainly recognize that fact. When other community leaders such as Mr. Page recognize the potential Oklahoma has to be America’s energy leader, he makes the message even stronger. Here's the editorial:


Tulsa World
State's CNG vehicle future burns bright
by DAVID PAGE
Thursday, July 16, 2009
  
As Oklahomans, we know natural gas as a reliable, dependable friend for the various household chores that we demand of it. Natural gas heats our homes, cooks our food, provides us with hot water for showers. It's clean and affordable, always there, consistent. But is it the "wonder" fuel of the next 100 years? Very likely.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) could soon become the most sensible and sought-after alternative fuel in the United States. It could be the "it" fuel of the 21st Century, one that weans our nation away from our slavish dependence on foreign oil, helps us keep more dollars in our pockets and cleans up our atmosphere — all at the same time.

If we make the right decisions and move fast enough, our great state could soon become the CNG center of the universe, given the abundant natural gas supplies beneath our feet and the extensive industry knowhow that lives and works in Oklahoma.

Two Tulsa-area lawmakers have already taken some big steps in the right direction. House Speaker Chris
Benge and state Sen. Brian Bingman handled the reins on successful legislation this last session that provides significant tax incentives to those who convert vehicles to run on alternative fuels, including CNG. The measure also provides tax credits for those who invest in qualified refueling locations.

On June 30, we witnessed the impact of that legislation when communications provider AT&T debuted a brand-new converted CNG-powered service van in Tulsa and then announced it would have at least 30 such vehicles on Oklahoma roads by the end of this year. Even more alternative-fuel vehicles are expected in the years to follow.
If we make the right decisions and move fast enough, our great state could soon become the CNG center of the universe, given the abundant natural gas supplies beneath our feet and the extensive industry knowhow that lives and works in Oklahoma. . .


  
AT&T Oklahoma President Bryan Gonterman credited the tax incentives for the company's decision to bring
the CNG vans to Oklahoma — well ahead of the many other states where AT&T does business. Chalk up a major win up for Benge, Bingman and the 25 other Tulsa-area lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — who supported the alternative-fuel legislation. The tax incentive legislation's staying power will be evident when more companies and individuals choose to invest in CNG-powered cars and trucks.
  
It just makes good sense to do so. CNG vehicles produce from 93 percent to 95 percent less in overall toxics compared to gasoline and diesel. They also cut greenhouse gas emissions by 22 percent to 29
percent compared with traditional fuels.
 
We'd not only breathe easier with more CNG vehicles, we'd also reduce our ballooning habit of relying on foreign oil to fuel our cars and our economy. Natural gas reserves are twice as plentiful as crude oil and 98 percent of the natural gas we use comes from our country and Canada. One study concludes that we now have 118 years of natural gas resources here in the United States.
  
But there's an even better benefit for Oklahomans, says Tom Sewell, who owns Tulsa Gas Technologies, which makes CNG pumps and does vehicle conversions. When you use CNG to power your car or truck, you're using a local resource that's discovered and delivered by working Oklahomans, Sewell says.
 
More CNG usage means more production, which could mean more jobs for our state. In fact, nearly all of the natural gas that's used by Oklahomans comes from Oklahoma. And the taxes that are levied on natural gas — from its production to its eventual use in your home and business — are taxes that stay in our state.
 
Of course, Benge and Bingman already knew all of this when they spearheaded the tax incentive legislation. Benge even conducts official business in a Chevrolet sedan that he had converted to run on CNG.
 
Now it's time for local businesses to follow AT&T's lead, study the advantages provided by the tax incentive legislation and take a good look at the benefits of converting more vehicles to CNG.
  
Thanks to our state's leadership, reliable and dependable natural gas may soon be the home-grown solution to the national alternative fuel puzzle.

David Page is the chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and market president for JPMorgan Chase in Tulsa.

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