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Oklahoma City group trying to turn U.S. Postal Service on to natural gas

A group of Oklahoma City businessmen are pitching a plan to build a market for natural gas vehicles, starting with the U.S. Postal Service.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: May 24, 2013

An idea launched on the Internet is becoming closer to reality, thanks to the timely intervention of a former U.S. Air Force pilot.

Oilman Ron Mercer and adman Bob Hammack hatched their plan almost two years ago: Save the U.S. Postal Service from going broke by switching from gasoline to cheaper natural gas.

Their idea was spelled out in a 15-minute YouTube video titled “Pump Fiction.” It has drawn more than 10,000 views since it was posted in July 2011.

“We had some pretty significant response,” Mercer said. “A lot of people wanted to support the idea that the video forwarded, utilizing the U.S. Postal Service to access the transportation sector for natural gas use.”

Mercer spoke to some oil and natural gas industry groups, finding many people who wanted to help, but his day job limited the amount of time he could spend pushing the plan.

“We didn't really know what to do,” he said. “We just did it. We had no expectations.”

That changed when Air Force veteran Dave Evans was hired as project director.

“He's done a great job taking this ball and running with it since February,” Mercer said.

Evans, who wanted to get involved in the oil and gas industry, has been busy meeting with lawmakers trying to gain traction for the plan, leading to a planned meeting in June with the postmaster.

Evans has also talked with representatives of the United Auto Workers about the potential impact on manufacturers of increased demand for natural gas vehicles.

Pilot program

The plan — dubbed MERVAN Project after Mercer and car dealer John Vance, who has served on advisory boards for several U.S. automakers — would begin with a pilot in Oklahoma City.

Evans said Oklahoma City already has the necessary infrastructure to handle an influx of natural gas vehicles, but the market for them needs to expand.

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