Currently, only 1,100 natural gas fueling stations exist like the one at Newark's Airport Plaza where Mr. Nastro was gassing up. About half of those are public. The rest are operated by trucking companies and other large fleet operators. Compare that with the estimated 150,000 gasoline stations that dot intersections in almost every town in America.
There's also the hard reality of history. In the 1990s, many large fleet operators invested millions of dollars and shifted to natural gas because of its lower price and environmental advantages. Then came hurricanes Rita and Katrina, which knocked out some vital natural gas pipelines. Soon afterward, analysts raised fears that domestic natural gas supplies were being depleted. Prices soared. Many fleet operators shifted back to diesel.
Still, advocates believe the shale gas revolution has fundamentally changed the energy landscape. This time, they argue, using domestic gas for transportation is a viable and stable option. "It's not just the abundance of the shale gas; it's the geographic diversity," says Kathryn Clay of America's National Gas Alliance in Washington. "With new parts of the country becoming players, we're not going to suffer from bottlenecks in the interstate pipelines."
Such arguments are convincing more gasoline station owners to consider adding natural gas to their fuel mix. Clean Energy, the nation's largest natural gas supplier to the transportation sector, is in the process of building 150 liquefied natural gas stations at 250-mile intervals along highways from Los Angeles to New York. The goal is to encourage long-haul truckers to shift from diesel to the cheaper, cleaner fuel.