The Ethanol Papers - Paperturn manuscript - Flipbook - Page 15
After buying the van, the long
drive home was very uneventful. Outside of having to chart
where I could buy CNG, everything was very routine. The vehicle performed perfectly (as
perfect as any full-size van
could be expected).
I had no sensation of loss of
power and had no trouble accelerating to the legal speed
limit (plus the extra 5-15 mph
that everyone drives at). Climbing the "grape vine" north of L.A. proved no problem, and each time I stopped
to fill up it took no longer than it would take to fill a gasoline tank. The only
different aspect was that most CNG filling stations are just basic filling facilities.
If I wanted a coffee or use a restroom, I had to also stop at a conventional
This experience with CNG - this mundane experience - was the same experience I had for the next eight years every time I drove the van. The van's engine
wasn't destroyed by CNG use, my vehicle always passed smog tests with flying
colors (and with lower harmful emissions), I saved money on fuel, and because
the van was approved for HOV lane use, I could drive in carpool lanes even
when I was alone. In many cases, I didn't have to pay bridge or tunnel tolls.
I definitely proved that CNG is a great fuel and that CNG-powered vehicles are
as good or better than any comparable gasoline-powered vehicle.
However, there are three problems with CNG. The first is that no automobile
manufacturers are mass producing CNG vehicles for the United States. Even
Honda ceased their very limited production of CNG Civics. The second problem
is that Federal and most state regulations make it almost economically impossible to convert an existing gasoline passenger vehicle to run on CNG, and in
some states it’s not legal to do the conversion regardless of how much you
spend. Therefore, CNG as an engine fuel, while abundant and domestically
produced, has been rendered irrelevant.
The third problem is that CNG is brought to us by the same people (the petroleum oil industry) who have lied to us, poisoned us, betrayed our nation, and