Natural gas: the fuel of the future

If you care about energy, energy independence, global warming, or the U.S. trade deficit, there is a must-read article on natural gas today in the Wall Street Journal.

At Equipment World, we’ve been researching and writing about alternative fuels for a couple of years now, and as hard as I’ve looked for the bad news about natural gas, I just can’t find any. Natural gas engines burn much cleaner than any of today’s engines or the coming Tier 4/2011 engines and are only slightly modified from current diesel engine designs. You can convert your diesel trucks to natural gas right now if you so desire. Perhaps best of all, the U.S. is sitting on a 100 year supply of the stuff, which would reduce our dependence on foriegn oil. Extraction of natural gas will be good for the U.S. construction industry as well, with the potential for tens of billions of dollars to be spent in drills, wells, refineries and pipeline work.

If there is a fly in the ointment it is that the people who use heavy engines aren’t the only ones interested in using natural gas. Some environmentalists say gas would be better used as a substitute in coal fired power plants. But considering the expensive and wrenching changes wrought on the diesel engine world by the last 10 years of emissions regulations, I’d say the construction equipment and trucking industries have a greater claim to a clean burning fuel than the coal industry.