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Post office gets cleaner trucks

Greg Risling

The U.S. Postal Service will replace its fleet of diesel-powered trucks in South Lake Tahoe next year with three vehicles that burn cleaner fuel.

Committed to reducing air pollution, the agency will use compressed natural gas rather than diesel to cut down the amount of pollutants belched into the atmosphere by its antiquated stock.

The postal service phase-out is one of the “deliverables” from this summer’s Presidential Summit. After listening to comments at one of the forum-related workshops, the agency decides to take action immediately.

“We wanted to switch over to natural gas soon as possible,” said Rick Beress, manager of post office operations in northern Nevada. “We were told that emissions passed by diesels are harmful to the ozone layer.”

The Postal Service is following the lead of WP Natural Gas, which has its vehicles equipped with the alternative fuel. A number of agencies have switched to compressed natural gas but the Postal Service is one of the first public entities to change over. The agency has something in common with the city of Denver, which is also thinking about the environment. Both operate at high altitudes which affects pressurized systems. Beress said he doesn’t foresee any problems with using the fuel in the vehicles.

“It really isn’t a unique thing,” he said. “It’s a definite plus to use natural gas because it helps our ecosystem.”

The trio of trucks were received over the summer and there will be little differential in cost. However, finding a fueling facility could pose a problem. WP Natural Gas would have to expand its station if the Postal Service were on board. According to Bridget Cornell, a planner at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, if alternative fuels are promoted in the basin there will need to be more accommodations.

The TRPA is currently updating its regional air quality and transportation plan that may identify alternative fuel programs as a basinwide goal.

“We haven’t specifically pushed for businesses to use compressed natural gas but we will have to offer incentives and establish a program that addresses air quality,” Cornell said. “We need to have more facilities around the basin if CNG is used by more people.”


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