WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, today welcomed Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica before the EPW Committee. Senator Inhofe invited Kolodziej to testify before today's hearing on "Opportunities to Improve Energy Security and the Environment through Transportation Policy." Senator Inhofe has been a leader on promoting bipartisan policies to encourage the growth of natural gas and propane powered vehicles since 2008.
"I was extremely pleased to welcome NGV America President Richard Kolodziej to the EPW Committee today to discuss the benefits of natural gas and propane vehicles," Senator Inhofe said. "The bipartisan support for both natural gas and natural gas vehicles speaks to its potential to strengthen energy security and serve as a viable alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. But to achieve these goals we must take advantage of our abundant, domestic supply of natural gas for use as a transportation fuel.
"There is no question about the supply of natural gas - we have plenty of it and we can develop it. Last year, the Potential Gas Committee released its latest assessment showing that America possesses 2,047 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - an increase of more than 35 percent just since the Committee's 2006 estimate. At today's rate of use, this is enough natural gas to meet American demand for 90 years. Just this January, the Department of Energy released new statistics showing that the United States had eclipsed Russia as the world's largest producer of natural gas."
During the hearing, Senator Inhofe highlighted the growing bipartisan support for NGV cars in a question to Kolodziej, asking, "I would like to say to you Mr. Kolodziej that we've been working on this for so long, and I appreciate the comments that you made. We have bureaucratic obstacles, and quite frankly the EPA is helping us, working with us right now. As you know, in my home town we have Tom Sewall, who has developed technologies that he's actually selling to other countries. He's doing conversions along with the home units-you can convert your own natural gas to compressed natural gas. So, we're making some headway there. And you're right, I just want to make sure everyone knows that those who are supporting our legislation to do this are Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch, Robert Menendez, Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, Lisa Murkowski, and myself and others. So, the question to ask you, just a yes or no question, have you ever seen anything that is enjoying that kind of bipartisan support?" Kolodziej responded "No."
Further, in his testimony before the Committee, Kolodziej praised Inhofe for his leadership on promoting bipartisan policies to encourage the growth of natural gas and propane powered vehicles, saying, "Senator Inhofe, the industry also appreciates your leadership in the introduction of S. 1809, a bill that would help streamline the EPA emissions certification process for after-market conversion systems. If passed, this bill would result in the availability of more systems for converting gasoline vehicles to run on natural gas, and they'd be less expensive."
In 2009 Senator Inhofe joined with Senator Pryor to once again introduce a comprehensive bill, The Fueling America Act of 2009, to promote these fuels for America's drivers. Further, in October, Senators Wicker and Inhofe introduced legislation, the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act, to simplify the EPA emissions certification process for aftermarket fuel conversion systems. Senator Landrieu is now a cosponsor of that bill.
Highlights from Kolodziej Testimony:
Inhofe Reg Relief Bill For Natural Gas Vehicles: "In addition, providing regulatory relief for manufacturers who produce alternative fuel conversion systems, as contained in S. 1809, would enable these businesses to expand their offerings of emission certified systems. Industry and EPA need to work together to find solutions that enable more conversion systems to be certified faster and with less expense. NGVAmerica believes that the regulatory relief that has been proposed - streamlining certification, allowing carry-across certification of similar vehicles, and expanding the model year concept for aftermarket systems - are all reasonable steps that should be taken to facilitate the increased availability of natural gas fueled vehicles. If these provisions had been in place the last time petroleum prices surged, thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) more NGVs would be on the road today."
Displacing Foreign Oil: "Using natural gas in motor vehicles will reduce petroleum reliance. And using natural gas in high fuel use fleets - particularly medium- and heavy-duty trucks - is the most immediate pathway to lowering dependence on foreign oil."
Natural Gas Vehicles Are Affordable: "Public policy benefits such as reducing oil dependence, urban pollution and greenhouse gases are critical, but vehicle owners - especially business fleet owners -- are overwhelming driven by economics. . . . But the combination of much lower fuel cost, lower maintenance cost and federal (and, in some cases, state) economic incentives, translates into a very favorable rate-of-return for fleets. For example, a trash truck, which uses 7,500 to 10,000 gallons of fuel per year, could recover its investment in less than 2.5 years, and see a net life-cycle savings of up to $80,000. Step-vans, which are used for delivery of baked good, snack foods, overnight mail, etc., could see a payback in less than 1.4 years, with a net life-cycle savings of up to $66,000. Even school buses, which do not drive as far per day, can get a payback within 3 years."
Natural Gas Vehicles Means Jobs: "More NGVs means more U.S. jobs. Jobs would result from engineers, technicians and others manufacturing engines, equipping new trucks with natural gas engines and cylinders, compressed and liquefied natural gas manufacturing storage vessels and fueling dispensers for natural gas stations and providing other support services."
Natural Gas Vehicles Are Good For the Environment: "The same properties that make natural gas an excellent fuel for other applications also make it an excellent fuel for transportation. Natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel fuel, and most other transportation fuels as well. Not surprisingly, the first vehicles certified to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ultra-low emission, super-ultra low-emission and Tier 2/Bin 2 standards were NGVs. The natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX has won numerous awards for its outstanding environmental performance. In 2009, the Civic GX was rated the "Greenest Car in America" by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy - for an amazing seventh year in a row."