Exec.: U.S. trailing in natural gas

The United States, home to one of the world’s largest supplies of natural gas, is lagging behind the rest of the world in using it as a transportation fuel.

Actually, it’s “light years behind” the rest of the world, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association Executive Director David Ludlam told the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

The association this year launched the “Missing Miles Initiative” with the goal of making it possible to travel across Colorado in a vehicle powered by compressed natural gas. The goal is about to be realized with the construction of a filling station that will serve Grand Junction and Mesa County vehicles, as well as the buses of the Grand Valley Transit system.

Filling stations in Rifle and Battlement Mesa also are coming online, Ludlam said.

The Grand Junction station is being constructed with the help of grants from Encana, one of the largest natural gas producers in Colorado and in the United States.

Natural gas can help the United States wean itself from foreign energy sources and improve air quality, Alexine Deahl, a business analyst for Encana Natural Gas Inc., told about 30 people at the briefing.

Natural gas is a safe alternative to gasoline because of its higher ignition temperature, small carbon-dioxide and other emissions, and large domestic supply, Deahl said.

Colorado “has one of the most friendly environments for natural gas conversion,” Deahl said. “And it’s a home-grown product.”

Still, places as far-flung as Pakistan, Argentina and Brazil are far ahead in recognizing natural gas as a transportation fuel, Deahl said.

Grand Valley Transit has ordered two buses, both of which will use compressed natural gas, Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said.

The equipment needed to burn natural gas will tack on a $40,000 cost for each bus, but at the current difference in cost between natural gas and diesel, the cost will be recovered in three years and four months, Acquafresca said.

“The incentives are both economic and environmental,” Acquafresca said.


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