September 23, 2012
The Oklahoman Editorial
Other than natural gas company executives and a few politicians, who's excited about building market share for gas products? Evidently a lot of people are.
The CNG Summit in Tulsa last week drew a sellout crowd to hear Gov. Mary Fallin and others tout the benefits of running vehicles on compressed natural gas.
Other than environmentalists and their liberal friends in Washington, who's pushing the federal government to encourage the journey away from gasoline and diesel to run cars and trucks? Fallin is.
She has made gas market expansion a key component of her first term, joining with other governors to boost state fleets powered by CNG and asking Detroit for its help in increasing the number of CNG-powered vehicles.
The governor also said she lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to get Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to avoid an overemphasis on electric vehicles as an alternative to gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and trucks. Fallin said the EPA is listening.
Oklahoma stands to benefit from a shift to CNG for running vehicles. Fallin's interest in this area is thus self-serving. Not only would increased market share for gas boost the fortunes of state-based energy firms, but the state treasury would swell.
Key barriers to market expansions, as identified at the summit, are infrastructure (the number of fueling stations, for example) and demand. The Fallin administration is working on both of these fronts by honoring producers and retailers for putting up new delivery points and by encouraging fleet owners to make the switch.
This is a win-win for Oklahoma and Fallin. It would hurt her politically only if the price advantage of CNG versus gasoline were to reverse — which isn't likely any time soon. This very conservative governor in a very conservative natural resources state is promoting a cleaner, abundant fuel produced within our borders.