New Study Pushes Natural Gas Use in Heavy Trucks

April 15, 2010

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The Center for American Progress released a memo Wednesday advocating the use of natural gas in heavy vehicles and incentives for making the switch, citing reduced oil use, investment in American energy sources, boosting energy independence and national security and cutting air pollution as positives.

The analysis coincided with a Wednesday testimony by energy magnate T. Boone Pickens, urging the passage of a bill that would offer incentives for the purchase of natural-gas trucks. Pickens was pushing for passage of H.R. 1835, The NAT GAS Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 1, 2009 and has 138 bipartisan cosponsors. The Senate version of this bill, S. 1408, was introduced on July 8, 2009 as a bipartisan bill by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Pickens' main push toward natural gas is driven by the need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

The Diesel Technology Forum issued a statement speaking out against the study's claims.

"There is a reason today that diesel powers the overwhelming majority of the nation's commercial trucking, school and transit bus fleets," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the non-profit group. "Diesel's unmatched combination of availability, safety, energy efficiency and economical operation and performance have made it the technology of choice, but it will be the environmental performance and prospects for even greater energy efficiency that make it the technology of choice for the future."

The study said that by deploying 3.5 million natural gas vehicles by 2035, the country could save at least 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. The analysis also touts natural gas as the cleanest fossil fuel, claiming it produces up to 25 percent less carbon pollution than oil.

But the Clean Technology Forum said 2010 diesel engines have leveled the playing field with natural gas in terms of emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. According to the group, clean diesel produces near zero emissions, and the new generation of 2010 clean diesel trucks boost fuel efficiency by 4 to 6 percent.

"Clean diesel technology is delivering benefits today in the form of low cost of goods movement and transportation, with an ever-smaller climate and environmental footprint," said Schaeffer.

To see the complete analysis by the Center for American Progress, click here.

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