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Environment “yes.” Foreign oil “no.”

With gas prices soaring above $4-a-gallon, and car emissions burning into our ozone layer, we need a better energy answer.

Compressed Natural Gas is a better answer than an all electric plug in.
It is what its name suggests – natural gas that is compressed. And it is far superior to gasoline or other oil-based products. It doesn’t pose nearly as much of a threat in case of a spill or to our general environment.

In a recent report, the New York Times said that people are moving toward smaller cars for better gas mileage. That’s all well and good. But in a crash, you risk greater injury in a small car. With thirty years of defective car litigation experience, there is no doubt that bigger is safer, with the exception of SUVs which are commonly unstable. A better idea for your safety and for the environment is a crash-worthy car with CNG in the trunk. An example is the Crown Victoria the battering ram of a car used by most police departments. It has a huge trunk to carry CNG tanks and a track record for occupant protection.

In California, dedicated CNG cars are entitled to drive past clogged traffic by using the High Occupant Vehicle diamond lanes. California is no longer issuing the yellow car-pool permits for a Prius. All 85,000 are gone. But there is no limit on HOV permits for CNG cars. In California the permit costs just $8.

CNG is the same clean gas that’s used on a kitchen range. Nobody thinks about polluting the kitchen air when he or she turns on the stove top because CNG is the cleanest energy available. Eight-five percent of all natural gas comes from the US. The balance is from Canada. CNG is environmentally clean and because it is not a petroleum product supply is not dependent on Middle Eastern oil or prices.

It does reduce trunk space, but there is a huge backseat for cargo.

Until more people adopt this alternative, there won’t be CNG stations on every corner. So when driving a CNG car you have to plan ahead but stations are easily located. In Northern California both PG&E and Pinnacle Natural Gas have numerous sites. Planning ahead is a small price to pay for HOV lane access.

So far, the only CNG car in production is from Honda. In typical “how dumb can Detroit be?” fashion, Ford quit making CNG cars in 2004. But demand will bring supply and Detroit and Tokyo will take notice as people buy CNG cars to be their perfect commute vehicle.

And there is a big incentive to buy – a hefty tax credit for getting a CNG Honda Civic, the only CNG car in production. The car, which costs about $24,000, can bring a tax credit of $4,000. And it has a lot of power with CNG, which has an octane rating of 130.

One more benefit: on natural gas, engines run forever, because there is no gasoline to dissolve and pollute the lubricating oil, just clean-burning natural gas.

CNG is the cutting edge of driving and not polluting. Its as close as you can get to driving with a clear conscience and a clear environment – much better than a Prius, which still pollutes, even if less than traditional gas-hogs.

What about cost of fuel? That is on just about everybody’s minds these days. CNG is about $2.50 a gallon. Big-trunk cars like the Crown Victoria can accommodate four three-gallon tanks or 12 gallons and have a range of approximately 250 miles. If you want to cut your fuel cost to $1 a gallon, install a home pump. Phill by FuelMaker allows you to refuel at home using household natural gas, plus there is an additional tax credit for purchasing a home gas pump.

Interested? In California, try Drive Traders and for Arizona cars Murphy at CNG Motors is very knowledgeable

Help yourself. Help the environment. Go CNG!


Richard Alexander