Natural Gas and Trucking Summit Planned

Thanks to a huge surplus and improved technology, the price of natural gas is substantially lower than that of diesel. This price difference is one of the reasons natural gas is making inroads into the motor carrier industry as the alternative fuel of choice. Until now, development of the natural gas fuel industry has been rather piecemeal, but that is about to change.

The nation’s largest trade group for trucking companies and driving professionals, the American Trucking Associations, has just announced a national summit on natural gas use and the freight industry. The summit will be the first of its kind, and will take place in Arlington, Virginia from November 28-30. The Hyatt Regency Hotel, which is hosting the gathering, is conveniently located near Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Registration for the event begins July 2, and will at first be limited to ATA members. Open registration begins in August. While the final program and speakers are still being firmed up, the event promises a full agenda of panel discussions and talks by industry experts. The organization plans to release a draft schedule within the next few weeks. The summit is expected to draw a wide variety of interested parties, from fuel producers to those interested in truck driving jobs. Trucking company executives and seasoned drivers are also expected to attend.

The use of natural gas as a viable fuel for the hauling industry received a boost in January when President Obama announced his intent to support creation of five natural gas corridors along major Interstate highways. The first corridor, which stretches from Long Beach, California to Salt Lake City, Utah, was officially opened in January, 2012.

Although interest in both Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) has been slowly building over the last few years, the current price differential is spurring even some skeptics to give natural gas a second look. With natural gas costing at least $1.50 per gallon less than diesel, truck drivers in particular may become natural gas' biggest fans.

Summit topics will include development of the natural gas fueling infrastructure, maintenance and repair considerations, and a look at how CNG and LNG are currently being used in the industry. Speakers will address current and future developments in engines and trucks. Government officials and Congress members are also expected to address the summit about policies and potential incentives.

By bringing together all interested parties, ATA intends to build momentum and stimulate a cohesive way forward for natural gas fuels. By climbing on board with alternative fuels, ATA also hopes to address some of the friction between environmental activists and the freight industry. Increased usage would reduce the environmental impact of the industry while also decreasing dependence on foreign oil. With lower costs and less carbon emissions than diesel, replacing diesel with natural gas fuels looks to be a win-win situation for the freight hauling industry and the nation.

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