There have been many proposals to aid in the fuel crisis that we are in currently. The most applicable for the transportation industry has been whether or not to change over to natural gas, to fuel over the road tractor trailers. This concept is good from the outside looking in, we in the United States have an abundant source of natural gas, with this proposal the United States would be able to put a dent in the dependence on foreign fuel. So why has this not been implemented? Perhaps it is politics, perhaps greed, or as with everything, underneath the surface of the this question may lie problematic and costly issues.
Incentives in the form of tax breaks for those companies that run their fleet on natural gas was defeated on the Senate floor on Tuesday the 13th. You can read the article by clicking this link (Reuters). To look at the issue closer as to why a bill that surly would help the trucking industry cut costs, did not pass, would be prudent for all that are involved. Here are some pro and cons to moving to natural gas:
- Nearly 87% of U.S. natural gas used is domestically produced
- 60-90% less smog-producing pollutants
- 30-40% less greenhouse gas emissions
- Less expensive than gasoline
- Limited vehicle availability
- Less readily available than gasoline & diesel
- Fewer miles on a tank of fuel
So if one looks carefully at the disadvantages, all three are felt heavily by the fleet operators and owner operators of tractor trailers. Vehicle retrofitting will be costly, slow and cumbersome for the trucking industry; mainly due to the fact that tractors in general are built to last a long time, so why would you replace or retrofit a working vehicle. Also the overall attitude of the trucking industry has been in the past resistant to such sweeping change.
Retrofitting, and or moving to new trucks will also be costly for the manufacturers of fossil fuels. Not to say these companies have a huge presence in the political world, these manufactures will not give up easily on their hold in the market, one is talking about at least billions of dollars. Lastly fewer miles on a tank of fuel will be an issue for the trucking industry, routes have to be calculated with regard to fueling trucks, if the distance is shorter for the tank of gas, a larger tank will have to be built, and or more fueling stations will have to be built.
Conclusion; there is as I have stated before no easy fix with regard to fuel consumption. It will have to take all involved to be on board with any changes. Patience is the key to any change, at least we are now recognizing that there needs to change an industry that is quiet frankly far behind the fuel conservation curve. I suppose that the gas prices have served a good purpose, rather than the obvious, just to show how greedy we have become.