Senator Flanagan Heralds New Environmentally Friendly Measures

John J. Flanagan

September 20, 2006

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today joined Governor George E. Pataki and Town of Smithtown Supervisor Patrick R. Vecchio to announce two initiatives that will greatly enhance the ability of residents to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

The first part is the announcement of the state's awarding of a $150,000 contract to assist the expansion of Clean Energy's compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fueling station in Hauppauge. When the expansion is complete, the facility's capacity will grow from approximately 40 gallons per hour to around 1,000 per hour and will be available to both public and private vehicles.

"The expansion of this facility will greatly increase the ability of environmentally conscious Long Islanders to fuel their vehicles. That convenience should also convince more drivers that clean energy is the way to go," stated Senator Flanagan. "Our future energy usage is clearly connected to the availability of viable alternatives and the expansion of this station is a great step to providing that needed access."

The refueling station is located in Hauppauge, adjacent to the New York State Office Building. The upgrades, which will be completed this year, will make the facility the largest publicly accessible CNG fueling station on the East coast.

The $150,000 contract is being provided by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). NYSERDA has previously awarded $166,000 to Clean Energy to construct two new CNG stations and take over operation of another seven stations for the State.

Clean Energy, through a contract with the State’s Office of General Services (OGS) and Department of Transportation (DOT), currently operates 11 state-owned CNG fueling facilities that are open to the public. Overall, there are 58 CNG stations across the State, with most used for State vehicle use only.

"For too long, our nation has relied almost exclusively on vehicles that use imported petroleum, and we have paid a heavy price for this dependency – high prices at the pump, threats to our national and economic security, and damage to our environment," Governor Pataki said. "Compressed natural gas has emerged as a viable alternative to conventional gasoline and diesel, and can help us reduce our dependency on imported fuel right now."

The expanded station also will support a landmark program being instituted by the Town of Smithtown that will require all residential refuse collection vehicles contracted by the town to be CNG-powered models.

In undertaking this innovative program, under a seven-year contract with Clean Energy, the town expects to see dramatic reductions in harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, as well as the displacement of more than 2.5 million gallons of imported petroleum. Smithtown is the first community outside of California to implement a program with a 100 percent mandate for CNG.

Supervisor Patrick R. Vecchio said, "I am very gratified that so many people have expressed support for our natural gas refuse project. We have checked the facts and the move to alternative energy is necessary now. Natural gas fuel is cheaper than diesel fuel and supplies are available here in North America, which will help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. When you add the environmental benefits of using natural gas fuel rather than diesel fuel, the choice is clear."

"Partnerships involving local, state and private entities are clearly the most effective way for New York State to become less reliant on foreign fuel. I applaud Supervisor Vecchio and the Town of Smithtown for their commitment to their environmentally friendly change and for their efforts to change our future energy consumption," added Senator Flanagan.

This year, Senator Flanagan was joined by his colleagues in New York State to enact a series of energy initiatives including:

-The elimination of all state taxes on alternative fuels, including CNG, ethanol, biodiesel, and hydrogen – which will provide savings of approximately 40 cents/gallon;

-A $10 million State program that will provide grants to private sector service stations to install alternative fuel pumps;

-A prohibition on "exclusivity contracts" between fuel distributors and service stations that prevent the stations from offering renewable fuels to customers if the distributor does not carry these fuels;

-A renewable fuel production tax credit that provides up to $2.5 million annually to companies that manufacture renewable fuel;

-A $20 million program to develop a pilot ethanol plant that will utilize plants and other materials abundant in New York State to make ethanol that has a higher net energy balance than conventional corn-based ethanol;

-The expansion of New York’s Empire Zones program to provide tax benefits to clean energy companies regardless of where they are located in the State; and

-A $10 million program to retrofit the more than 500 hybrid vehicles in the State fleet to be plug-in hybrids, which allows them to be plugged into the electric grid to boost fuel mileage in excess of 100 miles per gallon.