Back on September 26, 2013, we celebrated a great step forward for natural gas here in Ontario. Bill 97, The Natural Gas Superhighway Act, received unanimous support at Queen’s Park on a second reading of the proposed act. We had some questions for Bill 97 creator Bob Bailey, MPP, and here’s what he had to say:
Q: What prompted you to introduce your private member’s bill, the Natural Gas Superhighway Act, 2013?
A: Over the years I’ve met with a lot of leaders to discuss the opportunities to grow the gas industry in Ontario and how natural gas specifically could be leveraged by the province and become a catalyst for economic growth. When I started to look at the way business was being affected by the rising energy prices in the province I knew there had to be a simple way to help businesses regain some of the competitive advantage that they had in Ontario for so many years.
Q: What made you realize that there was an opportunity here for the transportation sector?
A: I was lucky enough to attend an oil & gas industry conference in Quebec last winter. At the conference the presenters put up a map of North America showing all the places where private investment was developing natural gas for transportation infrastructure; all of Ontario, and most of Canada for that matter, was blank. I knew right then that this was an idea I wanted to promote in Ontario. I knew if we could open up Ontario’s market to investment along Ontario’s portion of the Quebec City-Windsor corridor the businesses and the residents of this province could reap some huge economic and environmental benefits.
Q: What are some of the key elements to the proposed legislation? How would they help the transportation industry?
A: I drafted Bill 97 with two key elements. First, provide a small incentive to help mitigate the cost of transitioning from traditional to new natural gas specific engine equipment. Converting a fleet of vehicles is capital intensive, but the payback is there in two to three years time. Second, increase the maximum weight allowance for heavy duty vehicles just slightly to accommodate the extra weight of the equipment necessary to run LNG engines. The benefit to the public of these two changes is that the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel would slash the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the on road heavy duty transportation sector produces each year. The potential to reduce harmful emissions is so great, I think this is something the transportation industry could really embrace and promote.
Q: In your opinion, is natural gas a viable alternative for other sectors such as consumer automobiles?
A: There are always opportunities for advancements in technology; hopefully this is something that the automobile manufacturers and the natural gas industry are examining. I’m focused on the heavy duty segment because this group only makes up 3% of the vehicles on the road, but they contribute more than 27% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the province that come from the on road transportation sector.