Clean air proponents in Pittsburgh – who note that “Steel City” is the second-biggest inland port in America – would like to see river traffic begin the transition to clean natural gas fuel, and are taking steps to convince local operators, authorities and fuel providers that such a move would be good business.
“The fuel is here now,” says Jan Lauer, who heads the Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities and affiliated 3 Rivers Clean Energy organizations. “We have the good fortune to be the center of the Marcellus Shale find. We are going to be the center of gas for the country for the next century.”
“There are isolated pockets of conversation,” Lauer told F&F, describing the Pittsburgh area’s new Clean Fuels Clean Rivers organization as “a virtual consortium” serving as a “forum for dialogue.”
“The next step,” she says, “is to do the homework and establish a business case.”
To that end, Lauer is working with Tom Risley, energy programs director with Pittsburgh’s Life Cycle Engineering.
The Port Likes the Idea
“The climate is right,” Risley says, with two big drivers for natural gas: diesel costs continue to rise and operators are being forced by regulation to reduce their diesel emissions. They can do so without costly aftertreatment equipment, he says, if they shift to fundamentally cleaner natural gas. The many types of river craft, he says, spell opportunity for both CNG-compressed natural gas and LNG-liquefied natural gas.
Also backing the concept, Lauer and Risley say, is Jim McCarville, executive director of the Port of Pittsburgh.
“Certainly in our region, the supply side has shot up tremendously,” Risley says of natural gas. “It’s only fitting that the confluence of these fuels is at the confluence of the Ohio River.” Pittsburgh is where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio, which flows west and south to the Mississippi.
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