U.S. natural-gas producers are struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The issue being faced is supply, not demand. Producers in West Texas are getting natural gas as a byproduct in their drilling process for oil. Even though there is a high demand for the clean-burning fuel, the concern is that prices could slip below $2 by the time the heating season starts.
Diesel, as of right now, is the primary fuel for city buses around the United States, but will it stay on top forever? Since 1996 the percentage of city buses that operate on diesel has been getting on the decline. With just last year in 2018, diesel only fueled 42% of the buses across the US. A pale comparison to twenty years ago when diesel fueled 94% of the buses.
Natural Gas is the main reason to thank for the decline of the petroleum-based motor fuel. In 2018 natural gas fueled 28% of city buses in the US. Cleveland, Ohio purchased 133 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses four years ago in 2015. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority estimated $75,000 in savings per bus.
CNG emits 22% less greenhouse gases than diesel and even more than gasoline with a 29% reduction. The main issue with natural gas is the lack infrastructure, with the need of pipelines and fueling stations that cater to the fuel.
Fully electric buses, or E-buses, are having a much harder time breaking into the market, due the technology being fairly new and a lack of infrastructure. Making up roughly 0.1% of the bus fleets in the US, some transit agencies have their eyes set on the emission free fuel, where the application is needed.
Infrastructure is the obstacle that E-buses face, even more so than natural gas. The needs of a vast amounts of power and the funds to pay for the stations as well as the buses themselves requires transit authorities to buy into the “complete system”. A decision that would make most city officials uneasy.
It is clear that diesel is being used less and less by city buses every year. The next technology for buses is on the horizon, and if the trends stay the same diesel is on its way out.
Anheuser Busch, LLC (AB) has been handed a $500,000 fine, by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), for violating California’s air pollution laws.
The fine comes as an investigation, launched in March of 2015, that discovered that the brewing company had failed to meet the standards on self-inspections of 19 diesel trucks. The inspections were to see if the trucks met state smoke emission standards issued by CARB.
“No business large or small has the right to shirk responsibility when it comes to proper maintenance of the trucks it uses,” said CARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax. “California has some of the country’s poorest air quality and because of this, our laws are tough to protect public health. All businesses must do their part to ensure their fleets are fully compliant with California’s anti-pollution regulations that are designed to clean our air and protect our children.”
AB has agreed to the fine, with $250,000 going to the Air Pollution Control Fund, to support air pollution research, and the other half going to South La Urban Greening and Community Forestry Project.
British Columbia BC is continuing to expand their compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fleet in efforts to reduce green-house gas emissions. The buses serve over 130 communities across southwestern Canada in association with 58 local government partners.
“Our investments in public transit are allowing people to spend less time in traffic commuting home from work and more precious time with their families,” says François-Philippe Champagne, B.C.’s minister of infrastructure and communities. “These new CNG-powered buses will help meet growing demand, support better daily transit services for users and help protect the environment by supporting cleaner energy systems.”
This expansion was made possible by the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, which granted $135 Million to purchase 40-foot heavy duty CNG buses, which carry 81 passengers each. In addition, the medium duty 30-foot buses, 44 passengers, were purchased with funds contributed by federal, provincial, and local governments.
“These new CNG buses are a step forward in our efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions throughout our transit systems,” says Erinn Pinkerton, president and CEO of BC Transit. “The investments in Whistler, Nanaimo and Kamloops have demonstrated the benefits of using CNG buses, and I look forward to seeing more CNG buses across the province.”
“Moving to compressed natural gas from gasoline or diesel is an all-around win for our transportation customers by cutting both fuel costs and emissions,” comments Doug Stout, vice president of market development and external relations at FortisBC. “We’re proud to work with BC Transit to take strong steps forward to a lower-carbon future.”
Returning from last year, Drive Electric Week has evolved and expanded into Drive Electric Earth Day running all across the month of April. Promoting the use of alternative fuels and zero emissions nationwide.
There is at least one event in most states. Click here for a map of the events across the country.
Drive Electric Week has taken place every year since 2011, and is organized by Plug in America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association. Last year, 321 separate local events were hosted.
The range of vehicles is vast. You can expect to see staples like Tesla, BMW iSeries, the Nissan Leaf, and the Chevy Volt. You might also see some exotics such as Fisker Karma, electric motorcycles, and on rare occasions the Rimac Concept 1.
Drive Electric Week may have been replaced by Drive Electric Earth Day in April, but there will be another Drive Electric Week September 14-22. You can find a list of already-registered events here. The list will expand over time and will probably cover more regions than Drive Electric Earth Day, so if you don’t see an event in your area this time around, keep your eyes peeled and you might find what you’re looking for in September.