APGA Asks DOE To Provide Clarity Following National Lab Scientist’s ‘Anti-NGV’ Remark

The American Public Gas Association (APGA) has sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu, seeking clarity on the agency's position regarding natural gas vehicles (NGVs).

The request follows ‘anti-NGV’ testimony that Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Dr. David Greene presented to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources on Tuesday, APGA says. UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory on behalf of the DOE.

The trade group took issue specifically with the following comment: ‘It would probably not be worthwhile to deploy a full-scale natural gas refueling infrastructure…and although natural gas produces lower tailpipe GHG emissions than petroleum, those emissions are not low enough to meet the reductions that will be required in the future to protect the global climate,’ Greene said.

‘This anti-NGV statement is in stark contrast to DOE's stated support for the emissions reductions benefits of NGVs and for the long-term deployment of NGV technologies,’ wrote APGA president and CEO Bert Kalisch.

To further illuminate the disparity between Greene's comments and the DOE's actions, APGA noted the agency's recent announcement that it intends to pump $30 million into R&D for advanced technology projects specifically dedicated to NGVs.

‘As strong supporters of NGVs, APGA respectfully requests that the DOE elucidate its position on NGVs, their emissions and the DOE's long-term view of the role of NGVs in the U.S.' transportation system,’ Kalisch added.

Greene's testimony – the prepared version of which is available HERE – did not outline bold opposition to the use of natural gas in transportation applications. In fact, he advocated the deployment of NGVs overall, as well as the development of natural gas refueling infrastructure ‘where it makes sense.’

Furthermore, during the Q&A with senators following all the testimony, Greene emphasized that he sympathizes with the natural gas and NGV industries' desires to see fuel-neutral policies implemented at the federal level.

That could include addressing an imbalance in the excise taxes for diesel and liquefied natural gas (LNG) by taxing the fuels based on energy potential and not volume. The tax for both fuels is currently $0.243/gallon, but LNG yields about 60% of the energy as diesel. ‘Diesel gallon equivalent’ is the more accurate measurement, experts say.

Greene also highlighted the favorable economics – in the form of fuel-cost savings – behind a selective transition to natural gas. The economic upside is actually strong enough, he said, to make federal incentives for NGVs unnecessary.

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