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 activity.
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 public apprehension.
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
La Mesa Chamber of Commerce East County Economic Development Corp

Gordon Austin's involvement in the Citizens for Clean Air Policy was inspired by his experiences driving a natural gas-powered vehicle.
"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 of CCAP.
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 less.
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.

Frank Panarisi
President, Construction Industry Federation

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.
"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 and suppliers.
"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.

Carol Hartman
Solar Turbines

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," she said.
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.

Bob Kevane
CPA & Developer

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.
"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.