The North American Natural Gas Vehicles Conference and Expo kicked off this week in Denver, Colorado, with a theme acknowledging the challenges currently facing the natural gas vehicles industry in today’s low oil and gasoline price environment. “World oil prices have stirred up some headwinds that have affected everyone in this room,” said Natural Gas Vehicles of America President Matt Godlewski, speaking to more than 350 industry leaders, from fleet managers, to CNG fueling companies, to CNG equipment manufacturers.
“We’re in a difficult time with commodity prices where they are,” echoed Marty Durbin, President and CEO of the American Natural Gas Association. “We’re living in a high-resource reality… and we’re looking at prices staying low for quite a while.”
But Godlewski and Durbin, along with other opening session participants, including Andrew Littlefair, President and CEO of Clean Energy, and Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association, took the opportunity to give the industry a “shot in the arm” and reassure audience members that the value proposition for natural gas remains strong.
The value proposition for natural gas “rests firmly on four persuasive pillars—natural gas’ economic advantages over other fuels, its environmental benefits, and its ability to strengthen North American energy security through the use of abundant domestic reserves.”
Littlefair, leading a panel that included Chip Rimer, Senior Vice President for Noble Energy, General Michael Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), and Mike Whitlach, Vice President for UPS, said that the value proposition for natural gas “rests firmly on four persuasive pillars—natural gas’ economic advantages over other fuels, its environmental benefits, and its ability to strengthen North American energy security through the use of abundant domestic reserves.”
General Michael Hagee, speaking to the national security benefits of reducing U.S. oil consumption and deploying alternative fuels like natural gas, said firmly, “It’s in America’s national interest to decouple our economy from oil and the global oil market—our armed forces spend $80 billion dollars a year to secure supply lines around the globe.”
“Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela,” Hagee continued, “They’re one trick ponies, nearly completely reliant on high oil prices to fund their economies and social spending. These low prices are breeding significant problems for them and impacting our country’s foreign policy.”
The future of oil prices and geopolitical oil market dynamics were not the only issues of uncertainty discussed on Tuesday at the Colorado Convention Center. Federal regulation, including the Obama administration’s methane rule, caused many questions from the audience as to what kinds of regulatory policy they should expect from this and even future administrations.
“Politics are winning out over policy in Washington,” said ANGA’s Durbin. “The administration has not always put up roadblocks, but it hasn’t worked in lock step with us either. The administration is missing opportunities to have a real partnership with the industry—we’d be willing partners.”
States were commended for being bright spots in implementing supportive natural gas policies.
With political gridlock in Washington, states were commended for being bright spots in implementing supportive natural gas policies. The industry awarded Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper its NGV Public Policy Champion award for working with Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin and a dozen other governors to deploy natural gas trucks and sedans in state fleets.