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Alternative transportation fuels have been heralded as a way to shift heavy-duty trucks away from diesel or gasoline toward cleaner burning fuel, but the transition has remained a road too far for one main reason – lack of infrastructure. Even though gasoline prices are high and reducing pollution is an imperative to environmentalists, it’s still easy to find a gas station whenever you need one. The nationwide network of filling stations has been built over the past 100 years, giving oil-based fuels an advantage over newer alternatives, like hydrogen or natural gas. energyNOW! correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan traveled to California to learn about efforts to build a new network of alternative fuel filling stations – the Interstate Clean Transportation Corridor (ICTC).

Air Quality

The Interstate Clean Transportation Corridor

Alternative transportation fuels have been heralded as a way to shift heavy-duty trucks away from diesel or gasoline toward cleaner burning fuel, but the transition has remained a road too far for one main reason – lack of infrastructure.

Even though gasoline prices are high and reducing pollution is an imperative to environmentalists, it’s still easy to find a gas station whenever you need one. The nationwide network of filling stations has been built over the past 100 years, giving oil-based fuels an advantage over newer alternatives, like hydrogen or natural gas.

energyNOW! correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan traveled to California to learn about efforts to build a new network of alternative fuel filling stations – the Interstate Clean Transportation Corridor (ICTC).

Alternative fuel filling stations could reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks

Alternative transportation fuels have been heralded as a way to shift heavy-duty trucks away from diesel or gasoline toward cleaner burning fuel, but the transition has remained a road too far for one main reason – lack of infrastructure.

Even though gasoline prices are high and reducing pollution is an imperative to environmentalists, it’s still easy to find a gas station whenever you need one. The nationwide network of filling stations has been built over the past 100 years, giving oil-based fuels an advantage over newer alternatives, like hydrogen or natural gas.

energyNOW! correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan traveled to California to learn about efforts to build a new network of alternative fuel filling stations – the Interstate Clean Transportation Corridor (ICTC). The full video is available below:

The ICTC is a proposed network of liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations running from Salt Lake City to Reno, through California, past Las Vegas and onto Phoenix. But building the ICTC has been a chicken-or-egg problem: long-haul trucking companies are hesitant to convert their fleets to alternative fuels because of a lack of filling stations, and building filling stations doesn’t seem like a good business decision without enough alternative-fueled vehicles to keep them profitable.

Even so, the ICTC has gained a foothold at one filling station in Ontario, California via an innovative approach. A private for-profit fuel company runs the station, UPS donated the land and uses the station to fuel its local delivery fleet, and other alternative fueled-fleets (like trash trucks) in the community are allowed to use the station to fill up their fleets.

“When you invest in one station, you’re really investing in support for a number of different types of vehicles and fleets in the entire area,” said Rebecca Schenker of Gladstein, Neandross and Associates, a consulting firm that helped build the station.

Converting the nation’s big rigs from diesel to LNG could not only reduce emissions, but it could reduce America’s oil dependence. An alternative fuel conversion could save 1.2 million barrels of oil a day by 2020, according to a report from Resources for the Future – about two-thirds the oil currently imported by the U.S. from the Persian Gulf.

LNG-fueled fleets could also represent a significant cost savings over traditional fuels. UPS, which is heavily investing in alternative fuel to reduce its carbon footprint, sees green in more ways than one. “This is running a lot less cost, so there is an alternative to that, saving us money as well as emissions,” says DJ Romero of UPS. Romero estimates LNG costs his company half as much as diesel fuel.

Benefits aside, there’s still initial start-up cost to deal with. “Depending on the size of the station, how many users, scalability, meaning you can start small and add more tanks later, you are talking at least a million dollars for an LNG station,” said Schenker.

So the chicken-or-egg problem remains, and unless the collaborative approach pioneered in Ontario, California is replicated in other areas, cleaner fleets may remain a road too far.

 

 
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Written By

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

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