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NPR Story
10:40 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Oklahoma's 'Slow But Steady' Transition to CNG-Powered Government Vehicles

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 11:42 am

Gov. Mary Fallin at a March 2013 press conference in the parking lot of the capitol, which marked the delivery of CNG-powered Dodge Ram pickups for the state's fleet.

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Gov. Mary Fallin at a March 2013 press conference in the parking lot of the capitol, which marked the delivery of CNG-powered Dodge Ram pickups for the state's fleet.

“Oklahomans talk a good game when it comes to compressed natural-gas powered vehicles,” the Tulsa World‘s Randy Krehbiel writes.

Gov. Mary Fallin has been particularly aggressive in pursuing CNG vehicles, and joined with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in a well-publicized effort to pressure major car manufacturers to make more CNG-powered models.

So how much progress are Oklahoma governments making on converting fleets to CNG vehicles?

It’s been “slow and steady,” the World reports, but the number of CNG vehicles is still a “small fraction of the thousands of vehicles owned by the various state agencies.”

According to the World, the state has 561 CNG-powered vehicles — which is less than 5 percent of the 11,500 or so vehicles in the state motor pool, state data show. More than 75 percent of the state’s fleet are gasoline or diesel-fueled models, while 19 percent — about 2,100 vehicles — are flex-fuel models designed to run on either gasoline or gasoline blends that contain up to 85 percent ethanol, the data show.

In Tulsa, less than 2 percent of the city’s vehicle fleet is CNG-fueled, Krehbiel’s numbers show.

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett is also a CNG advocate, and Tulsa recently was recognized for having one of the 30 best “green fleets” in the country. Still, the city has only 41 CNG vehicles — and about 100 hybrids — out of a total fleet of nearly 2,500. Officials say more CNG cars and trucks are being added as practical, with delivery on several more expected in the next few months.

But the percentage of CNG-powered vehicles is a lot higher at the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority, which has 28 CNG-powered buses and 37 CNG-powered “minibusses,” the paper reports:

… nearly half the buses and three-fourths of the vans are now fueled by CNG, thanks to almost $15 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants.

“Within the next five years we expect to be almost completely CNG,” MTTA General Manager Bill Cartwright tells the paper.

Copyright 2014 StateImpact Oklahoma. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/.