Govs. Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia and John Kasich of Ohio are right to be exploring whether state government vehicle fleets should include cars and trucks fueled by natural gas. They also are correct to be moving cautiously, however.
West Virginia and Ohio are involved in a 13-state consortium promoting use of natural gas in government vehicles. Two representatives, the governors of Colorado and Oklahoma, were in Detroit last week to discuss the initiative with the Big Three automakers. The idea is to encourage production of more cars and trucks that use natural gas instead of gasoline.
Proponents of the idea, including not just state officials but many in local governments, say gas may be cheaper than gasoline, saving taxpayers’ money. In addition, more natural gas cars and trucks would increase demand for the fuel, benefiting areas like ours with rich deposits of the fuel.
But it is a question whether artificial methods of increasing demand for gas are necessary or even wise in the long run.
Already, despite a mild winter, gas prices are trending upward. This week, gas was selling for around $2.80 per thousand cubic feet — an increase of about 40 percent during just the past six months. A price hike for petroleum of that magnitude in that amount of time would cause a national outcry.
Still, even at the current price, gas is a bargain.
But if prices continue to rise, natural gas vehicles may seem to be less of a good deal for consumers and taxpayers.
— Distributed by The Associated Press