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You keep hearing about natural gas and CNG, but what what is it really? And why should you care about using CNG instead of gasoline or diesel fuel for transportation in America today? In the first episode of this six-part educational series, CNGnow outlines the environmental, economic and geopolitical benefits of making the switch to compressed natural gas.

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CNG on the Rise

Consumer use of the fuel is most prevalent in California and New York. Utah is catching up fast, with the most CNG stations per capita and more than 5,000 CNG vehicles on the roads. With a $3,000 state tax incentive credit and CNG prices at about 86¢ per gasoline gallon equivalent, it's no wonder that even the governor drives a CNG vehicle.

Many other states have federal vehicle tax credits in place to provide incentives for drivers to purchase CNG vehicles or to convert their vehicles, if it's one of the limited number that qualify, to run on CNG fuel.

It's Time for Supply to Meet Demand

Roughly 250,000 of the 12 million CNG vehicles worldwide are in the U.S.,according to GE, including aftermarket conversions. The nation's only light-duty, factory-produced CNG vehicle in production, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, has been on the market since 1998. Though these vehicles are selling out faster than they are made and production is expanding, no other automakers are currently manufacturing light-duty CNG vehicles in the U.S.

The bottom line is simple. We need more major automakers manufacturing new CNG vehicles at home and more American consumers taking them to the streets. 

Make A Impact, without the carbon footprints

Q: What is CNG gas?

  • A: CNG is a readily available alternative to gasoline that's made by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. Consisting mostly of methane, CNG is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It's drawn from domestically drilled natural gas wells or in conjunction with crude oil production.

Q: Does anyone use it?

  • A: Natural gas powers more than 12 million vehicles on the road today. Unfortunately, only about 250,000 of these are being used in the U.S., according to GE. The average growth rate in the U.S. shows a 3.7% increase per year since 2000, as contrasted with a booming global growth rate of 30.6% per year.Expanding the numbers of CNG fueling stations would allow for the increase of CNG vehicles on U.S. roads. There are 12,000 around the world, yet the U.S. claims about 500 public stations. New technologies and greater demand mean that the number of new stations is climbing rapidly.

Q: Does It Cost a lot?

  • A: Your would think that with this being such a vital new item towards benefiting global health. CNG would be twice the price of gas, but its quite the opposite. As gasoline prices continue to rise, American interest in CNG is rising, and with good reason - CNG costs about 50% less than gasoline or diesel, emits up to 90% fewer emissions than gasoline and* there's an abundant supply right here in America. So it's clean, affordable abundant and American.

Q: Is it safe to use in my truck?

  • A: Although CNG is flammable, it has a narrow flammability range, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, making it an inherently safe fuel. Strict safety standards make CNG vehicles as safe as gasoline-powered vehicles. In the event of a spill or accidental release, CNG poses no threat to land or water, as it is nontoxic. CNG also disperses rapidly, minimizing ignition risk when compared to gasoline. Natural gas is lighter than air and will not pool as a liquid or vapor. Nevertheless, indoor leaks can form a flammable mixture in the vicinity of an ignition source.
  • CNG is primarily methane, which is a greenhouse gas that could contribute to global climate change if leaked. Methane is slightly soluble in water and under certain anaerobic conditions does not biodegrade. If excess amounts accumulate, the gas can bubble in water creating a possible risk of fire or explosion.
  • Reported incidents of CNG bus fires are related to engine failures, not the use of natural gas. Natural gas buses have onboard gas detectors and other safety devices such as tank safety valves that only allow fuel flow when the engine is on. Also, the tanks must be periodically inspected by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • There are, however, some safety concerns with CNG buses compared to diesel fuel buses, such as greater breaking distance due to increased fuel storage system weight. This is a relatively small concern, however, because the fuel system is a small fraction of a bus' total weight. CNG buses also might accelerate more slowly than their diesel counterparts.
Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) can have a direct, positive impact on America's air quality and environment - today. NGVs in urban environments are a solution for meeting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) non-attainment measures and improving local air quality.NGVs improve air quality through dramatic reductions in emissions, such as:

  • Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% to 30%
  • Reducing carbon monoxide (CO) emissions up to 75%
  • Reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by approximately 50%
  • Reducing up to 95% of particle matter (PM) emissions
  • Reducing volatile organic compound (VOCs) emissions by 55%

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is an affordable alternative when compared to gasoline or diesel fuel. CNG can cut fuel costs by about 50% while delivering the same power and performance. In addition, with fuel emissions standards rising in cities more fleet organizations are seeing the value natural gas can add to their budgets.Meanwhile, record U.S. natural gas production - a landmark study showed supply far exceeds government forecasts - and storage levels assure reasonable prices for the foreseeable future. In the past five years, natural gas prices have risen much less than many other commodities.


Vast new natural gas resources are being discovered across North America. In the past five years, shale reservoirs have revealed natural gas deposits that doubled previous estimated U.S. gas reserves - giving us close to a 100-year supply. And the supply is growing as new technology allows us to produce from large reserves that were too difficult to access until recently. It's vital because many experts agree that global oil production has peaked, even as demand is still rising. Because of its growing abundance, domestic natural gas will play a major role in meeting our 21st-century energy needs.


Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are our best answer for reducing dependence on foreign oil and increasing domestic energy and national security. Almost all of the natural gas we use comes from right here in North America. Conversely, 60% of the oil we use is imported.We export approximately $1.25 billion a day to pay for foreign oil, adding to our trade deficit and weakening the dollar. By using domestic natural gas, we strengthen both our nation's economy and energy security - keeping jobs and revenues at home. In July 2012 the U.S. spent $34.6 billion on imported oil. If not burdened with this addiction, our country could have:

  • Hired more than 621,000 new teachers
  • Funded highway repairs for about 11 years
  • Built 55,329 new elementary schools