Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly, and Clean Energy, Love

Last week, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) hosted a forum in Philadelphia aimed at examining a host of issues surrounding the expanded use of alternative fuel vehicles, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) technologies.

Without question, Pennsylvania – and the greater Philadelphia region specifically – is well-positioned to leverage the Marcellus Shale’s abundant natural gas resources to both power the Commonwealth’s transportation sector and realize positive, meaningful environmental benefits associated with this clean-burning American energy source.

Panel participants included:

  • PUC commissioners;
  • Drexel University President John A. Fry;
  • Top government officials: Mayor Michael Nutter; U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Patricia Hoffman; PA DEP Special Deputy Secretary for External Affairs Alisa Harris; and State Rep. Stan Saylor;
  • As well as a host of natural gas industry officials: Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber, EQT’s John Quinn; PECO Energy Co.’s President and CEO Craig Adams; and Chesapeake Energy’s Market Development Director Norman Herrera.

On its website, PUC provides a full recap of the forum, including audio and panelist presentations, available HERE.

So why is this issue so critical to not only southeastern Pennsylvanians but to those across the entire region and country? Well, not only is the expanded use of American natural gas helping to “slash emissions,” as the Financial Times recently reports, but as more domestic natural gas is safely produced here at home, consumers are saving more and more at the pump, as highlighted in a new Bloomberg News analysis. The national security benefits of this transition are undeniable, too.

But there’s much more that must be collaboratively accomplished to fully realize the environmental, economic and energy security benefits tied directly to natural gas as a transportation fuel. For its part, PA DEP and PUC launched “a Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) website and plan to help municipal and commercial fleet owners make informed decisions about converting their fleets to compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas” earlier this week.

Commenting on the efforts, PA DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said:

  • “These web-based resources will educate fleet owners and other potential grant applicants in advance of workshops being scheduled for the fall. Website users have a unique opportunity to submit information to DEP about projects they may be considering, so that we can craft a program to best serve their needs and help make resulting grant applications competitive.”

Added PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson:

  • “This new website will put information at the fingertips of those who are interested in learning more about natural gas vehicles. As we found with our recent forum on alternative fuel vehicles, people are eager to explore the role of natural gas vehicles in Pennsylvania. At the same time, municipalities and employers have many questions about costs and benefits. This website will go a long way toward providing answers and allowing DEP to design a program that will best meet their needs.”

And on Monday, June 11, Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences will host a conference in Lehigh Valley, entitled “Natural Gas Vehicles: The Road Ahead in Pennsylvania,” that will “provide a comprehensive discussion on utilizing natural gas as a transportation fuel in Pennsylvania and the greater mid-Atlantic region.”

Across the Commonwealth, Pennsylvanians are understanding more and more the countless benefits of clean-burning American natural gas. In fact, Beemac Trucking announced that it will be breaking ground in a week on Beaver County’s first CNG filling station. Former Pennsylvania governor and Philadelphia mayor perhaps captured it best in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer column:

  • Natural gas stands to make significant strides in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in particular, especially when used for transportation. By transitioning SEPTA to natural gas, Philadelphia could lower taxpayer costs and refocus funds while making significant strides to be a better steward of the environment.
  • Natural gas burns much cleaner than traditional fossil fuels, with tailpipe emissions 25 percent cleaner than gasoline and diesel. As a former mayor of Philadelphia, I know how important air quality is to the city’s families and residents. Using natural gas to power our buses, heavy-duty trucks, and other fleet vehicles will dramatically reduce hazardous pollutants, making our air cleaner and safer to breathe.
  • While improved air quality and savings at the pump are key advantages of natural-gas vehicles (NGVs), the most critical benefit is our increased economic, energy, and national security. America’s dependence on foreign oil puts our citizens and our economy in jeopardy. Year after year, as OPEC continues to raise the price of oil, we cannot afford to continue relying on unstable, undemocratic regimes to provide our energy. Natural gas offers a solution, an American solution, produced right here in Pennsylvania.

Governor Rendell is absolutely right: expanding the use of clean-burning American natural gas to fuel our economy and our transportation needs is “not a campaign slogan, it’s reality.” Live in southeastern Pennsylvania and have questions about Marcellus Shale natural gas? Please visit www.AskAboutShale.org, and join the conversation.