The end of July will bring natural gas to Columbia. Columbia’s first compressed natural gas, or CNG, station is expected to be completed late this month but not all are in favor of the impact the project will make.
The plan to build a natural gas station started last September when the Columbia City Council approved a 15-year contract with Clean Energy, a natural gas provider.
The station will available for public use, but it will especially impact fleet operations in Columbia because some public vehicles are being converted to run on natural gas.
“The fuel will be a dollar plus cheaper than diesel or gasoline is right now. Additionally, some of the maintenance costs will be reduced. For example, the interval for servicing the vehicles that are powered by CNG extended,” said Eric Evans, the Columbia Public Works Fleet Operation Manager.
The project is met with opposition. Monta Welch, the Founder and President of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition say that the debate over natural gas is nothing new.
“It was the same issue then as it is now of preventing this kind of energy that you can’t make money off of forever to be what powers us,” Welch said.
Environmentalists believe that the negative effects of using natural gas outweigh the benefits. They say that natural gas is harmful; not because of the gas itself, but by how it is extracted. Welch says that through using the fracking method in order to release gas, the risk of methane leaks increases.
“In many cases there is a tremendous amount of methane that escapes and methane is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon or even dirty carbon. So, there are some huge issues,” Welch said.
Construction on the project is almost competed at the site of the future CNG station. The station will be located at 1900 Lake Ridgeway Drive and will be the only CNG station between Kansas City and St. Louis.