By D. Ray Tuttle
In a coordinated effort with the governor of Colorado, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin launched an initiative to increase the use of natural gas vehicles in state automobile fleets.
Fallin made the announcement Wednesday during the Governor's Energy Conference in Oklahoma City. Fallin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a memorandum of understanding, stating a desire to purchase functional and affordable NGVs for use in state fleets. The memo is a first step in a comprehensive statewide energy plan released jointly by Fallin and Hickenlooper.
Tom Price, senior vice president of corporate development and government relations for Chesapeake Energy Corp., praised the move. Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake, the second-largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., looks to fast-track development of NGV fueling infrastructure. The company made an announcement this year that it will invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to do so.
The move by Fallon and Hickenlooper signifies a step in the right direction to increase compressed natural gas demand, Price said.
"These two states recognize the economic, environmental and national security benefits of the greater use of American-produced natural gas," Price said in a statement.
The governors of these two states are taking bold action to add CNG-powered vehicles to state fleets across America, he added.
Fallin, a Republican, and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, see natural gas playing a pivotal role in creating an energy future for the U.S., Price said.
"It is one that will save consumers a significant expense at the fuel pump," Price said.
Fallin, who first hinted at the initiative during a speech to the Broken Arrow Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday, said Wyoming and Pennsylvania have also signed the agreement. Additional states have been invited to join, she said.
In a statement, Fallin said states would prepare a request to automobile manufacturers to design an NGV and sell it in bulk to participating states.
The goal is to target 5,000 fleet NGV purchases a year, Fallin said in the statement -- establishing a demand and incentive for U.S. car manufacturers to design and sell a natural gas sedan.
Fallin said the announcement gives participating states a lead role in shaping energy policy.
Hickenlooper also unveiled an initiative in Colorado.
Also at the Governor's Energy Conference, Fallin presented the "Oklahoma First" Energy Plan, a blueprint for the state's energy future.
The plan focuses on enhancing the production of traditional fossil fuels like oil and natural gas while complementing their use with renewable sources of energy like wind power.