Tahlequah 'leading the way' with CNG station

Saying that Tahlequah is "leading the way in this nation," U.S. Representative John Sullivan joined members of Northeastern State University and the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facilities Authority to announce the opening of a new Compressed Natural Gas fueling station Thursday afternoon.

NSU President Martin Tadlock, who also serves as the chairman of NOPFA, opened the proceedings by praising the joint partnership.

"As a public university, Northeastern State University has an obligation to partner with others to reduce our carbon footprint and to take action that creates a more sustainable way of life for residents of the communities we serve," Tadlock said. "We will continue to look for ways to do those things as sustainability and reduction of our carbon footprint is a priority component of our strategic plan. It is the right thing to do.

The CNG station is located on the western Highway 51 loop near West Choctaw Street and the Tahlequah Business and Industry Park. The fueling station will be operational 24/7 with credit card access for public use and fleet operations. When the station opens, it is expected to sell CNG for $1.08 a gallon.

"Working with NOPFA, the City of Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation, and others to open the CNG site in Tahlequah is a great example of how partnerships and collaborations work to improve a region," said Tadlock. "It is also an good example of how state and federal funds can be put to work in a way that directly impacts economic development at the local level. Without the work of our elected officials this would not have happened."

The station provides additional infrastructure supporting CNG vehicle operations. A second station is planned for Stilwell in Adair County. Several fueling sites are already in operation in northeast Oklahoma, including Muskogee and Broken Arrow.

Sullivan, an NSU alumnus, is an author of H.R. 1835, the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions of 2011, or NATGAS Act. The bill seeks tax credits for CNG station construction, buying fuel and the purchase and manufacture of CNG vehicles.

"That garbage truck displaces 325 cars in regards to pollution," Sullivan said. "Not only that, it's cheaper and abundant and it's American-made energy right here in our own backyard. We don't have to rely on foreign oil anymore and we could quit our addiction to foreign oil in this country."

Tahlequah mayor Jason Nichols said the station will help the city control fuel costs as the transition to CNG occurs for more of the city's fleet of vehicles.

"This is also the only CNG fuel station that is so close to an industrial park," Nichols said. " We know this will be a valuable asset when it comes to economic development."

Sullivan also said the move to CNG will help lessen the U.S. dependence on foreign oil and help establish more jobs.

"We have 120 years of natural gas right under our feet," Sullivan said. "We have an abundant resource and we need to use it.

"I'm so excited to go back to Washington and tell them that Tahlequah, Oklahoma is leading the way in this charge. You should be very proud. Thanks for coming together like you've done. It's miraculous." 

Published: 8/19/2011 8:50:15 AM

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