|First natural gas (LNG) refueling station opens in Utah|
By JOSH LOFTIN
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SALT LAKE CITY
The first liquefied natural gas station in Utah opened Tuesday at the junction of two interstate freeways.
The station will likely become an important hub for two planned LNG corridors for long-haul trucks in the western U.S., said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. It is located near a Salt Lake City interchange between I-80, which goes east across the country to New York and west to San Francisco, and I-15 running north through Idaho and Montana into Canada and south to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
"Using more natural gas in our transportation sector will make us more competitive as a nation," Hatch said during a ceremony to open the station. "Natural gas is clean, it's abundant, it's affordable and it's American."
Along with five hoses for LNG service, the station will offer 12 hoses for compressed natural gas that is more commonly used by passenger cars and light-duty trucks, said Merritt Norton, chief executive officer for CH4 Energy, the company that will operate the station.
Utah already has good infrastructure for CNG vehicles, with more than two dozen stations open, Norton said. Many of those are along I-15.
Norton said natural gas burns cleaner than fuel and is non-toxic, which he proved by downing a glass of water mixed with LNG.
Because it is domestic, natural gas provides energy independence and boosts the economy, said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. But he cautioned that natural gas supplies depend on access to gas wells.
Although many people think protecting the environment and developing resources are mutually exclusive, proper "stewardship of the earth" requires some concessions, Herbert said.
"If we can't drill, if we can't access the natural gas in our public lands, we can't have it here," he said.
The station was partially funded by a $3 million grant from federal stimulus funds given to the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, said Carrie Gilles, the coalition's northern director.
The U.S. Department of Energy says 40 other LNG stations are open in the U.S., 32 of them in California.