So far there aren't many manufacturers of natural gas-fueled vehicles (NGV); however, there are numerous companies providing aftermarket NGV conversions. That's why an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to streamline aftermarket conversion certifications is so important, according to NGVAmerica.

"We commend EPA for recognizing that its regulations as currently written are not a good fit for aftermarket conversions," said NGVAmerica's Jeff Clarke, general counsel, during last Wednesday's hearing on EPA's proposed changes. "It has been a long time in coming and is welcomed."

Streamlining certification of aftermarket NGV conversions is one of the most important steps the government can take to expand the use of NGVs, the advocacy group said. Clarke said the NGV industry continues to support certification requirements, but the existing regulations are unduly restrictive.

"Until there are sufficient numbers of original equipment manufacturers' products available in the marketplace, our industry will continue to need aftermarket conversions to help us grow, to help us justify the necessary investments in fueling stations, and to help us increase market penetration. Conversions fill a void unmet by original equipment manufacturers and demonstrate consumer demand for new applications.

"Conversions also provide a ready means of addressing the emissions and fuel consumption of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will continue to be in operation for many years to come."

Under the proposed rulemaking, the agency would approve systems for use on vehicles older than two years but would not require the more extensive and expensive Certificate of Conformity for these vehicles. In addition, the agency has also proposed three options for engines that have exceeded their regulatory useful life.

NGVAmerica recommends that EPA:

"Natural gas vehicles can play an important role in increasing energy security, creating U.S. jobs, providing cleaner air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- while generating economic benefits for consumers," Clarke said.

While the U.S. NGV market is currently small, there are 11.1 million NGVs around the world, which is up from 2.8 million in 2003, according to NGVAmerica. "Around the world natural gas is the fastest growing alternative," NGVAmerica President Richard Kolodziej told GasMart 2010 attendees earlier this year in Chicago (see Daily GPI, May 13).

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