Gov. Mike Beebe (D) has joined what is now a 22-state “bipartisan” effort to convince major automakers to build more affordable compressed natural gas vehicles.
In early April, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) were leaders in a 13-state effort asking auto manufacturing chiefs to send them a plan to provide the states “a cost-saving measure for states and a means to incentivize the manufacture of affordable and functional CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) vehicles.”
“Our two state fleets have well over 10,000 cars and trucks between them,” Fallin noted in an “Oklahoma Now” column released today (Oct. 1). “Introducing CNG vehicles to these fleets will save taxpayer dollars on fuel costs and encourage the creation of CNG infrastructure and fueling stations, which in turn will make it easier for families and businesses to also use CNG.”
A delegation of Governors visited the automakers in Detroit, and in late July the states issued a request for proposal soliciting bids for compressed natural gas sedans, pickups, and vans to be used in state fleets.
When asked to join the multi-state effort originally launched with 13 governors, Beebe said state officials were reviewing “how we could best approach a significant change in the ways state vehicles are fueled.” One outcome of that review is the need to also address infrastructure if CNG conversion is to be widespread.
Beebe also encouraged Fallin and Hickenlooper to seek the expansion of liquified natural gas. LNG is natural gas converted to a liquid form for more efficient transportation when a pipeline is not possible. LNG, because it is more expensive to produce and store, is not considered as economically feasible for all vehicles, but could provide cost advantages for use in the trucking industry.
“I urge you to add infrastructure and liquified natural gas to your list of priorities in pursuing more opportunities for natural gas. As such, I am committed to the expansion of compressed natural gas, so with this letter, I authorize the inclusion of my signature and the Seal of the Great State of Arkansas to be included in this MOU,” Beebe noted in a July 24 letter to Fallin and Hickenlooper. (Link here for a PDF copy of the letter.)
Fallin and Hickenlooper are expected to announce the results of the effort on Thursday (Oct. 4) during the Governor’s Energy Conference held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
“What was originally an idea between two governors has grown into something very big,” Fallin said in a recent statement. “With 22 states now participating, Gov. Hickenlooper and I are excited to be able to share what can be accomplished when politics are put aside and states work together. We believe that our CNG vehicle initiative will jump-start state use of CNG automobiles, save taxpayer dollars on fuel costs and help to support the use of an American-made fuel that supports American jobs.”
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