Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry traveled to Capitol Hill recently as part of a seven-member team briefing members of Congress on natural gas issues important to the city.
Usry joined three other Georgia mayors and senior staff members of the Georgia Municipal Gas Authority and the American Public Gas Association on the trip. They met with 11 U.S. House members, both U.S. senators and/or their key energy staffers in 13 meetings over the course of two days. The meetings took place May 24-25.
Discussions centered on the use of compressed natural gas, or CNG, for vehicle fuel. Because of the incredible amount of natural gas available domestically with the advent of new technology to affordably and safely harvest natural gas from shale rock formations, many fleet operators are beginning to convert their vehicles to consume CNG rather than diesel or gasoline, which are significantly more expensive fuels. Interestingly, the city of Thomson has operated its own CNG fleet as part of city operations since the late 1970s.
"CNG is not new to Thomson. We have relied on it for 30 years and are convinced it is a superior fuel and should be used extensively for transportation purposes," noted Usry. "The opportunity to use affordable, clean-burning natural gas, which is also abundant domestically, cannot be overlooked. The shale revolution in the U.S. has the potential to significantly reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil. If we as a nation are ever going to get serious about weaning ourselves off of foreign crude, now is the time!"
The team encouraged members of Congress to seriously consider continuing tax incentives to encourage the building of refueling stations, promote vehicle conversions and incent automobile manufacturers to build and market CNG vehicles as original equipment. In addition, the team discussed concerns with the federal permitting of export facilities for liquefied natural gas, noting that it makes no sense to export a clean-burning, affordable domestic energy while importing expensive foreign oil, much of it from nations unfriendly toward the U.S.
Others traveling with Usry included Mayors William Evans of Sparta, Larry Guest of Elberton and Bill Yearta of Sylvester.