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FROM THE HILL

corporations cannot afford to pay the expenses of converting trucks from diesel to natural gas, and the government should help offset these costs in exchange for long- term benefits to the U.S. economy. In another interview with investment

analyst Jennifer Schonberger, Pickens said “I want heavy-duty trucks and buses to operate on natural gas and reduce reliance on OPEC oil. The sooner the better, but I think in seven to 10 years, I can cut OPEC in half.” Pickens maintains that even if Congress

refuses to offer tax credits, the movement to natural gas is already gaining momentum. Predicting oil to reach $90 a barrel by the end of 2010, the low prices for natural gas have curtailed gas exploration and drilling, another reason Pickens believes tax credits could spur trucking companies to change over and create demand. U.S. diesel prices continue to increase,

reaching $3.069 per gallon the week of April 12. That is an increase of 31.3 cents since February 15, 84 cents higher than the same week last year. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) did a study recently on the 10 states most sensitive to oil price shocks. Montana was listed alongside Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas due to average gas costs in 2009 coupled with percentage of income a resident Some trucking companies like United

Parcel Service (UPS) are testing natural gas in trucks, particularly those in dedicated and local traffic lanes. Robert Hall, director vehicle engineering at UPS, says that CNG is a plus because it is “cost effective, clean- burning and abundant.” On the other hand, FedEx Freight is

testing a zero emission plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell hybrid tractor to see if it has long-distance heavy duty truck applications. The American Trucking Associations

(ATA) generally supports natural gas in trucks but cautions tax credits alone may not be enough to get trucking companies to convert. In its policy paper, the ATA points to several factors that impede the industry’s ability to convert truck fleets. Natural gas trucks sell at a large premium

compared to heavy duty diesel engines for Class 8 trucks. Natural gas prices fluctuate just like diesel fuel but acknowledge that liquefied natural gas (LNG) sold at a

ROADWISE | APRIL 2010 | www.mttrucking.org

For advertising information, please contact Jennifer Matthews Kidd, publisher, at 501.907.6776.

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significant discount over diesel fuel in 2009, about 75 cents per gallon less at the pump. Weight is another issue for the trucking

industry because natural gas fuel tanks weigh twice as much as a typical diesel fuel tank. ATA also cites the challenge long-haul

trucking companies will face since there are few natural gas refueling stations along the nation’s major highway corridors. Pickens quipped, “This is the first question you get in any audience: who’s going to pay for the infrastructure. The people who sell the fuel will build it. All they have to do is

have customers.” Which is a good thing considering natural gas fueling stations are on average four times more expensive to build than gasoline or diesel stations. On the plus side, natural gas vehicles

are safe, as durable as diesel engines but run more quietly, and the fuel is plentiful. The ATA generally agrees with the objectives of the Pickens Plan, to rid the U.S. economy of its dependence on foreign oil. Finding the right fuel to power the freight trucks upon which the U.S. consumer depends is the key.

“ GET NOTICED!”

If the dozens and dozens of e-mails we had in our inbox after the first issue of Roadwise is any indication of the caliber, quality and reach of the magazine’s readers, then the Motor Carriers of Montana and Matthews Publishing Group are targeting exactly the right people! I think it’s safe to say the complete redesign is getting some serious attention. We were so impressed, we will begin advertising next issue. We can’t wait to see how good our ad looks on the pages of Roadwise. We’re sure we’ll get noticed.

Bill and Nancy Davies D&D Transport

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