Natural gas is a clean domestic energy alternative to gasoline for fueling the nation’s private- and public-sector fleets, a former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) head said during ceremonies in Sacramento, unveiling a new alternative transportation fuels report from the California Secure Transportation Energy Partnership (CalSTEP).

Natural gas has made and will continue to make a key contribution to California’s current and future alternative fuel solutions, said former DOE Secretary John Herrington, who is now a board member of Clean Energy, a CalSTEP partner and one of the nation’s largest suppliers of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for transportation.

Statewide in California there is already a network of several hundred private and municipal fleets — transit buses, refuse trucks, airport shuttles, taxis, and light-duty trucks — that have natural gas-powered vehicles, Herrington said.

“Natural gas is an extremely low-carbon fuel that is domestically produced,” Herrington said. “It provides proven near-zero emission benefits unlike diesel or gasoline-powered vehicles, and is competitively priced at about $1.85-per-gallon at Clean Energy fuel stations.”

To move the alternative fuels into a larger share of the transportation market will require a lot of proactive steps such as the ones outlined in the new CalSTEP action plan. The industry in California needs to be “empowered and grown,” and CalSTEP can help make that happen, Herrington said.

Herrington also is realistic enough to know the clean fuel industry is going to have to lobby hard in the governmental sector. He said his firm will work to make the industry’s case to state lawmakers. In the end, Clean Energy will need “persistence and commitment” to get something done, he said.

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