Wyoming and CNG Vehicles

by Taylor Viydo, tviydo@k2tv.com 
While Wyoming has some of the lowest gasoline prices in the country, many of us can still relate to the notion of "pain at the pump." The question is, however, what are some solutions to that pain? 
One might be right underneath our feet: natural gas. 
According to the Wyoming State Geological Survey, the Cowboy State is the third largest natural gas producer in the nation and accounts for almost 10 percent of the U.S. market. The abundant natural resource also accounts for almost 20% of all jobs in the state. 
Could that resource, however, make filling up our cars with gasoline a thing of the past? 
Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, still has a ways to go.
"No private party is going to build a fueling station if there is not demand out there," points out State Representative Tim Stubson, (R) - HD 56. 
In fact, there are currently just four CNG fueling stations across Wyoming. Cheyenne is home to a station and Casper has none. Stations are also located in Riverton, Rock Springs, and Evanston. 
Fortunately, the Wyoming Legislature took notice of the so-called "chicken and the egg" situation. In this year's general session, lawmakers passed two bills aimed at making cars run on natural gas a more common sight. 
"One [of the bills] encouraged state agencies to purchase more CNG vehicles," said Stubson. "The other [bill] was a low-interest loan program through the business council to allow private gas stations and fuel markets to build CNG fueling stations." 
Stubson and others are hoping CNG catches on. In Wyoming, the average price of CNG equivalent to a gallon of gas is just $1.57. 
"Because natural gas engines last a lot longer, there is a payoff in investing in CNG vehicles," said Stubson. Stubson and others also cite cleaner emissions from cars that run on natural gas.
At a time of low natural gas prices that have even dictated the state budget, CNG stands to benefit the Cowboy State's economy. "As we can push those prices up, we not only increase revenues, but also jobs," says Stubson. 
Governor Mead has also been a vocal supporter of CNG vehicles. Last year, Mead along with 12 other governors from energy-producing states asked automakers for information about getting CNG vehicles for state fleets. Just last fall, the state was awarded bids to purchase CNG cars from Wyoming dealerships.