The Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program will provide $30 million to increase Colorado’s natural gas fueling infrastructure. The funds will provide for the statewide construction of compressed natural gas fueling stations and the purchase of natural gas vehicles (NGV).
Increased use of natural gas as a transportation fuel diversifies Colorado’s portfolio, supports locally produced energy, improves air quality and can save money through lower fuel costs. These funds are critical to support installation of compressed natural gas fueling stations along the state’s major transportation corridors. These stations will help ensure an NGV owner can drive nearly anywhere across the state fueled by Colorado-produced gas.—Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
In 2011, Hickenlooper and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin joined 14 other states to sign a multi-state Memorandum of Understanding committing to the purchase of NGVs for each State’s fleet and encouraging the development of more functional and affordable CNG vehicles. As a result of the effort, car manufacturers are offering states lower cost NGVs and more model types including the recent introduction of half-ton trucks and mid-sized sedans which run on CNG.
Earlier this month, the Colorado Energy Office led an agreement among 29 large fleet owners including local governments, private sector companies, other public entities and members of the natural gas industry. These organizations committed to help accelerate the deployment of NGVs and accompanying fueling station infrastructure.
The CMAQ funds will help with the construction of as many as 30 compressed natural gas fueling stations, and for the adoption of at least 1,000 natural gas vehicles to be awarded for use statewide. The four-year program will be managed by the Colorado Energy Office with the support of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Regional Air Quality Council (RACQ) and local governments.
The CMAQ funds received approval through a vote by the Colorado Transportation Commission.
Jointly administered by FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the CMAQ program was founded in 1991 and reauthorized under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998; the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005; and most recently, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) in July, 2012.
Through the close of the SAFETEA-LU period in 2012, the CMAQ program has provided nearly $30 billion in just under 29,000 transportation-environmental projects to State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and other sponsors across the country. As with its predecessor legislation, the MAP-21 provides funding to areas in non-attainment or maintenance for ozone, carbon monoxide, and/or particulate matter. In addition, those State that have no non-attainment or maintenance areas still receive a minimum apportionment of CMAQ funding for either air quality projects or other elements of flexible spending.
The MAP-21 provides just over $2.2 billion in CMAQ funding for each year of the authorization-2013 and 2014. While project eligibility remains basically the same, the legislation places considerable emphasis on diesel engine retrofits and other efforts that underscore the priority on reducing fine particle pollution (PM2.5).