Look who's packing heat these days:
• Trash truck drivers in New York City.
City bus drivers in Tempe, Ariz.
Airport shuttle operators in Cleveland.
The heat they're packing is in the form of transportation fuel made from domestic natural gas rather than imported crude oil. The rapidly growing movement to convert vehicle fleets from gasoline to gas is tracked in the third edition of “The Road to Natural Gas” by Clean Energy Fuels Corp.
Clean Energy promotes and monitors gas-fueled transportation as well as the current cost savings and reductions in air emissions. Interest in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles remains light among private motorists but not among the people who operate corporate and government fleets. They don't just fill a tank. They fill up from tanker trucks, as it were.
Gov. Mary Fallin has positioned the state to march in the gas-powered parade, joining other governors in encouraging publicly owned fleets to run on CNG or other natural gas products. With gasoline prices on the rise, the savings are getting more noticeable — as much as $1.50 a gallon or more.
Clean Energy uses the information superhighway to promote what it calls “America's Natural Gas Highway,” the collection of fueling stations that offer gas products in addition to or exclusive of gasoline and diesel. More such stations are opening by the day, many of them devoted solely to public transportation fleets. An example is Dallas Area Rapid Transit, now taking delivery of five new CNG buses each week until it reaches its 452-bus order.
These are exciting developments for Oklahoma because of the abundance of natural gas here and the economic impact of the companies that extract and market it. Even if it takes many years for average drivers to embrace CNG, their trash may go to the dump in a gas-powered truck that's passed on the freeway by a gas-powered airport shuttle van.