Controversial Propane Autogas Project Advances in Ulster County

In a 14-9 vote Tuesday, Ulster County, N.Y., lawmakers approved a pilot project to retrofit five vans from the local sheriff's office to run on propane autogas.

According to a Daily Freeman report, some of the legislators, as well as residents who spoke before the vote, were strongly against moving the $25,000 program forward. They said that the county should research how propane autogas is working for other local municipalities and argued autogas is not an alternative fuel.

Advocates, meanwhile, said the propane autogas would save the county money and help make its fleet environmentally cleaner.

In a press release following the vote, Legislative Chairman John Parete noted he first proposed the pilot project last March.

“It took a year of asking folks, doing the research and seeking out the right fit for a pilot program, but finally we have a place to start for a future countywide alternative fuel policy,” said Parete.

He even acknowledged that propane autogas was not his first suggestion.

“I never said this was the alternative fuel answer for the entire county fleet,” he stated. “Really, I entered the discussion seeking compressed natural gas for the vehicles, but through discussion and evaluation, we found propane, a cleaner fuel, to be the right fit for the sheriff's vehicles.”

“I thought this was a good idea when Chairman Parete suggested it almost a year ago and included funding for the pilot in my 2015 budget,” commented Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum, also in the press release. “My office is still on board with the idea, and I think that the inmate transport vehicles will be a great test.”

According to the Daily Freeman report, the measure moves to the county executive for a decision. The full report is available here.

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