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Compressed Natural Gas: A New Environmental Risk?

Is compressed natural gas a new environmental risk?

The United States is seeing accelerated interest in use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative vehicle fuel.  It is ever more prevalent with public transit buses, company vehicle fleets, municipal trash haulers, and now even tanker trucks.  This sudden growth in use is spurred by recent developments including new methods of drilling that have greatly increased its supply and by the pressure to reduce greenhouse gases.   As it makes more and more economic sense for municipalities and cities to replace their existing diesel fuel powered fleet with CNG, there has been a rapid expansion to construct and co-develop CNG fueling stations. 

Debates will continue to rage over the environmental impacts of resource extraction and the implications for climate change; however, these issues aside, what other environmental and operational risks might emerge from this trend of increased CNG use?   As more CNG fueling stations appear, both private and public, is there now an increased risk at fueling facilities?  The underlying question is whether the fueling stations have increased the overall risk of fire, bodily injury, and/or pollution liability.  To answer this question, it is important to understand what CNG is.



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