Natural Gas Vehicles: Free-Market Capitalism at Work

With most of Washington focused on the debt ceiling, the NAT GAS Act (HR1380) has faded into the background – just one of hundreds of big-government bills waiting to become a law.  But while Washington bickers over which industries to subsidize, an amazing thing is happening: domestic demand for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) is growing.

As the trade group Natural Gas Vehicles for America – a big booster of the NAT GAS Act – freely acknowledges, there are 110,000 NGVs in the United States.  A drop in the bucket?  Sure.  But demand is on the rise, all without the egregious handouts promised by the NAT GAS Act.

As Heritage Action’s COO Tim Chapman pointed out in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ford is running with a new line of natural gas powered taxis.  And just this year, “hundreds of taxis, powered by compressed natural gas, will pop up around the country: 120 Ford Transit Connects in the Los Angeles area, 70 in Connecticut.  Las Vegas, St. Louis, and Philadelphia will also see their own fleet of Transit Connects soon.”

It’s not just taxis, though.  Earlier this month, Ryder, a leader in commercial transportation, announced new lease agreements with customers for 87 heavy-duty natural gas trucks.  The article notes that UPS, which has been using NVGs since 1989, has more than 1,300 such delivery trucks.  AT&T has nearly 3,000 NGVs, and plans to purchase up to 8,000 more.

And it’s not just Ford, either.  Earlier this month, General Motors entered into an agreement with Westport Innovations to create a passenger car that runs on natural gas.  What is GM’s angle?  A natural gas powered Chevy Cruze to compete with Honda’s Civic GX, which is the only commercially available passenger car that runs on natural gas.


But the infrastructure!  Where are we going to get the danged infrastructure so people can fill their new NGVs, you ask.  How about the natural gas industry?  Don’t laugh, because it’s happening.

Chesapeake Energy, a major producer of natural gas and supporter of the NAT GAS Act, plans to invest $1 billion over 10 years to spur demand.  One of its first investments will be natural gas fueling stations scattered across our nation’s highways.

And what is Chesapeake’s angle?  They have more natural gas than demand.  Building the infrastructure to support natural gas vehicles will make it easier to refuel NGVs and thus increase demand for natural gas fuel.  That in turn, would increase the price of natural gas.  The real kicker from the article is that modest increases in natural gas prices would boost Chesapeake’s annual net income by nearly $1 billion.  Pretty good motivation, huh?

If Congress weren’t so busy meddling, they might notice free market capitalism is working.  It’s time to scrap the NAT GAS Act





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