Kasich: Businesses should embrace natural gas vehicles

Source: Columbus Business First

With Ohio sitting atop the potentially lucrative Utica shale play, Gov. John Kasich is using his bully pulpit to push businesses to spark the use of natural gas vehicles in the state.

“The state can do what we can to jump-start this with vehicles in our fleets,” he said Tuesday during a natural gas vehicle summit at Ohio State University, “but it’s going to be the business leaders. (They) have to show this is something they care about.”

Without such demand for natural gas-powered vehicles at the corporate fleet level, automakers are reluctant to manufacture the vehicles, Kasich said at the event sponsored by America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an industry trade group. And a lack of demand will continue to slow development of natural-gas fueling stations, which are seen as critical to moving the industry forward.

“We have to work to develop the market,” Kasich said. “We’re really committed to doing this.”

As evidence of that, he pointed to Ohio being one of 15 states to band together to seek proposals for natural gas vehicles from auto manufacturers. The state also has identified more than 200 government-owned vehicles due for replacement in 2013 that have the potential to be powered by natural gas.

“The state of Ohio needs to set an example,” Kasich said. “We need quantity… I hope in the next decade Ohio can be the leader in vehicles powered by natural gas.”

He said Ohio has the natural gas to support such a vehicle boom, but he thinks business groups such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce need to take a leadership role in encouraging companies to buy natural gas vehicles. In addition, Kasich told summit attendees they need to do more to advance their agenda.

“We need a game plan, not just talk,” he said. “Let’s leave (the summit) with a to-do list, and we’ll get moving on this to create a vibrant industry.”