Sunday, November 9, 2008

Liquid Natural Gas Cars Not Coming to California - For Now

LNG Proposition Goes Down In Clean-Burning Flames

Despite heavy financial backing from the alternative fuels industry, Proposition 10, the California bond measure that would have created rebate incentives for the purchase of cars and trucks running on natural gas or other alternative fuels, was soundly defeated on election day.

Nearly 60 percent of voters on Nov. 4 cast ballots against the initiative, which was backed by billionaire ex-oilman T. Boone Pickens, the founder of Seal Beach-based Clean Energy Fuels, a supplier of compressed and liquefied natural gas for vehicles.

The failed bill would have provided $2.8 billion for rebates to promote the purchase of clean cars and trucks. Funding would have come from general obligation bonds sold by the state. Repaying those bonds would have cost Californians $333 million a year for three decades, a total of almost $10 billion.

Clean Energy pumped nearly $19 million into the campaign to pass Prop. 10 and natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy and its owner, Aubrey McClendon, donated $3.5 million to the Yes on 10 campaign. Another supporter was Long Beach-based Westport Fuel Systems, which has been developing LNG fuel systems for trucks in the harbor.

But despite all the big money behind Yes on Prop 10, the measure also had strong opposition, including Gov. Schwarzenegger, the state Democratic and Republican parties, and the chair of the California Air Resources Board.

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