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Natural Gas Could Be Replacement For Gas

The Oil Drum has an incredible article about just how much natural gas does the nation need to become energy independent.  Why ask this question?  Recently a Potential Gas Committee report states that natural gas reserves in 2008 rose to 2,074 trillion cubic feet.  This 35% increase in the estimated amount of natural gas could lay the foundation of nearly another 100 years of natural gas.  Why is this important?  Natural gas releases much less carbon into the atmosphere than coal or oil.  Also natural gas engines are much more efficient than either gas or oil, but usually more expensive.
The author, Robert Rapier, presents specific calculations on the comparative costs between natural gas and oil.  Natural gas is a bargain at $4 per million (MM) BTU to oil's current $12.24/MMBTU.  Also note that this is at $71 a barrel, not the $100 plus price we saw for oil last summer.  So why doesn't everyone just convert?

The cost of natural gas cars is much more expensive than gasoline based models.  For example, a natural gas powered Honda Civic -GX is over $8,000 more than its gas powered counterpart.  Then for the individual it does not make sense, but for fleets it does.  The economics and environmental impact of fleets allow for this high price point to be actually negligible in the long term.

What was truly interesting about this article was a huge factor only came to light after publication and came from one of the readers of the articles.  Marc J. Rauch, Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher of The Auto Channel, states that for an individual (or shop) to be licensed to do a conversion, the person must pay $10,000 per year, per engine type, per year of manufacture.  This simply is way, way too cost prohibitive for any person to try to change their engine with a certified mechanic.  Other commentators in different countries were astonished, since they could all convert their cars from $1,000 to $5,000.

Oh, and the agency these individuals and shops must pay is the EPA.  I smell the hand of the oil and coal lobby here, my friends. Does anyone have any information on why these EPA licensing fees are so high?