CCAP promotes benefits of natural gas
by Stan Keniston
s the 21 st century approaches, California finds itself
trying to answer the question of how to pursue needed economic development
while maintaining a commitment to environmental sensitivity. One local organization
believes it has the solution to this delicate balancing act.
Citizens for Clean Air Policy is a non-profit corporation
working to educate the community about the environmental, economic and safety
benefits of clean fuels, such as natural gas, and the use of alternative
fuel vehicles. Formed in April 1993 at the request of the California Council
for Environmental and Economic Balance, CCAP members include environmentalists,
business people, and labor and industry representatives, all of whom view
natural gas as the brightest source of energy in the state's immediate future.
Citing the numerous advantages of natural gas, CCAP
hopes that education and awareness will lead to the development of a natural
gas infrastructure capable of meeting California's growing energy needs,
while at the same time protecting its ever-fragile environment.
Among the fuel's benefits, natural gas can be harvested
in a less obtrusive manner than coal. It burns cleaner than oil or coal,
and its consumption does not produce dangerous byproducts. Natural gas creates
30 to 60 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions than oil or coal. Even in
comparison to today's improved unleaded gasoline, natural gas creates 40
percent fewer hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions. According to 1994
emissions regulations, which have become much more stringent in the last
few years, 1994 model passenger cars emit .125 grams of hydrocarbons per
mile and 3.4 grams of carbon monoxide per mile. At an average of 13,000
miles driven per year, if only 10,000 of these 1994 passenger cars were
converted into natural gas vehicles, that would represent a reduction of
more than 200 tons of air pollution.
Another important benefit of natural gas is its safe
and efficient transmission. High- pressure pipelines can safely transmit
natural gas underneath city streets or across long stretches of open country.
Throughout the nation, the natural gas industry spends approximately $3
billion on safety every year. Gas companies use modern technology, stringent
policies and constant surveillance to ensure the safety of their communities.
Here in San Diego, for example, San Diego Gas & Electric has numerous
safety policies. To begin with, pipes are thoroughly inspected before installation.
Inspectors use x-ray equipment to verify the safety of each pipe and weld.
The pipes are also treated with a special coating that prevents corrosion.
The law requires that natural gas pipelines be buried
at least three feet deep in the ground. However, pipes in San Diego are
always buried at a minimum depth of four feet. Located several feet above
the pipe, a warning marker indicates the pipe's presence below. The marker
is a highly-durable, bright yellow tape that serves to prevent excavation
crews from accidentally damaging the pipe.
There are other precautionary measures for excavation
as well. The law requires that all excavators consult the gas company before
engaging in any digging. This process is made very simple and convenient
by calling a toll-free service at (800) 422-4133. In further efforts to
prevent unwary excavators from damaging an underground pipeline, pipeline
routes are constantly patrolled by ground and air in order to monitor digging
In the unlikely event of a gas leak from a pipeline,
the gas can be shut off immediately. Although natural gas is odorless, the
gas company odorizes it for quick detection of a leak. Another characteristic
of natural gas is that it is only combustible when in concentrations of
4 to 14 percent with air.
CCAP stands by the National Transportation and Safety
Board report that names natural gas transmission pipelines as the safest
way to transport any energy-related product. The group works to inform communities
impacted by natural gas projects about its benefits and to overcome any
While focusing its efforts on environmental issues,
the group also promotes the economic advantages of natural gas. Once considered
a dwindling fuel source, there is now a plentiful supply of natural gas
in North America. Currently, about 25 percent of America's energy comes
from natural gas. President Clinton has proposed that the U.S. increase
its use of natural gas and decrease its use of more polluting fuels. According
to the Clinton Administration's plan, approximately 30 percent of the nation's
energy needs would be provided by natural gas by the year 2000. According
to Leonard Coburn, deputy director for oil and natural gas policy in the
U.S. Department of Energy, such an increase would create about 200,000 jobs
for U.S. workers.
For more details about CCAP and information on membership,
call (619) 687-7025 or write to Citizens for Clean Air Policy at 501 West
Broadway, Suite 2020, San Diego, CA, 92101.
Susan Lew, San Diego Port Commissioner, and philip Nguyen,
CCAP secretary, with two natural gas vehicles: a Ford Crown Victoria and
a North San Diego County Transit District bus, displayed at CCAP symposium
Meet board members of Citizens for Clean Air Policy
Gordon Austin's involvement in the Citizens for Clean
Air Policy was inspired by his experiences driving a natural gas-powered
La Mesa Chamber of Commerce East County Economic Development Corp
"After driving it for eight months, I became convinced
that natural gas vehicles were the best way for California to meet state
and federal clean air standards," said Austin, a founding board member
According to Austin, the differences in power and handling are negligible
between late-model natural gas cars and traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
There are major differences when it comes to the environment and economics,
however. Natural gas burns cleaner, and it costs between 10 and 20 percent
Austin hopes his efforts with CCAP will make natural
gas vehicles a viable alternative in the near future.
"I believe people are anxious to convert their cars. If it's made available,
people will flock to it in droves. The question is developing a distribution
system to make the fuel readily available and getting manufacturers to step
up their production efforts."
Currently, there are more than 160 natural gas vehicles
in use in San Diego County as well as several commercial gas stations that
sell natural gas.
As president of a federation representing six construction
associations and approximately 1,800 companies, Frank Panarici, a founding
board member of CCAP, concerns himself with the well-being of a large number
of San Diego County residents. He sees the use of natural gas benefiting
not only the environment, but the livelihood of thousands of people.
President, Construction Industry Federation
"The introduction of a cleaner and more efficient
energy source can only support and improve the quality of life for everyone,"
Panarisi said. "Southern California will continue to grow, and we need
to provide sources of energy which will accommodate that growth in addition
to taking care of the environment."
Panarisi has spoken out in favor of the Pipeline 2000 project bringing natural
gas to East County and South Bay residents, citing an increase in jobs not
only to the construction industry, but also to secondary subcontractors
"Domestically developed industry means more jobs
which in turn will produce a positive economic impact during recessionary
times," he said. Large natural gas reserves in North America could
decrease America's reliance on foreign petroleum and increase domestic productivity.
A genuine concern about the environment and the motivation
to do something about it inspired Carol Hartman to become a part of Citizens
for Clean Air Policy.
Hartman, a founding board member of CCAP, said, "I
believe in the environment and in the future of our world."
A self-proclaimed "doer," Hartman has been
involved in many similar activities in the past and views her CCAP involvement
as a meaningful focus of her time. She has high expectations for the prospects
of a cleaner California.
"The potential reduction of air pollution is the
single greatest reason I can think of to support natural gas, or any other
alternative source of fuel," she said. Hartman ultimately hopes to
see all vehicles in California, and the rest of the nation, converted to
an alternative fuel.
She believes CCAP can play a large role in breaking
through some of the misconceptions some people hold about natural gas.
"There is a segment of the population that has
a fear and a hysteria about natural gas, and that needs to be dealt with,"
There is also the matter of supply and demand. Hartman
notes that while supply is necessary to get it to the consumers, that supply
will only be produced once the demand is developed.
While protecting the environment is a big reason Bob
Kevane became involved with CCAP, his major motivation was economics. Kevane,
a founding board member, believes that as natural gas usage in the county
increases, the area's economy and employment figures will follow suit.
CPA & Developer
"Natural gas projects, especially Pipeline 2000,
stimulate the economy, create greater employment opportunities, and provide
the region with an increased capacity to expand," Kevane said.
He feels that public support for converting to natural gas is out there,
but local politicians have to open their eyes.
"They need to start making decisions based on the
facts, not on votes," he said.
It is Kevane's hope that CCAP can help bring those facts
into view. He feels CCAP has the potential to influence the decisions made
by local leaders.
"I hope we can influence decisions from a factual
point of view rather than political," he said. He holds a positive
outlook for the future, believing that people are becoming more aware of
facts that influence their lives. As this happens, Kevane feels that politicians
will feel the heat.
"The populace is not laying back being ignorant,
they're thinking about what is going on in their world. The politicians
can't ignore this for too long."
Stan Keniston is the Chairman of the Citizens for Clean Air Policy.
CCAP is a non-profit organization, and is sponsored in part by San Diego
Gas & Electric.