As the owner of two dual-fuel vehicles (compressed natural gas/gasoline) I found the basis of CWPMA’s (Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association) suit against the Sublette County School District (SCSD) No. 1 rather disingenuous. By attempting to proscribe their simplistically narrow view of government’s role in the marketplace, the CWPMA has drawn some starkly self-serving conclusions.
While both parties in the suit seem to recognize the failure of the free market to supply the demand for CNG in rural communities, only SCSD No. 1 was willing to act to address this failure. For this, the school district should be commended.
Few will argue that promoting CNG as a transportation fuel is not in the best interest of the nation and Sublette County in particular. I can attest that domestically produced, cleaner burning, low cost CNG leaves this consumer with more disposable income with which to stimulate the local economy.
While I have great faith in the free market to establish the efficient provision of goods and services, it is essential to recognize the marketplace’s shortcomings. Substantial barriers to entry exist for the fledgling CNG industry. Questionable lawsuits by the dominant fuel providers and punitive legislation by co-opted legislators need not be among them.
The ability of the CWPMA (producers few in number) to organize and seek “favorable” legislation far outstrips the disorganized and disparate consumer’s ability to counter such efforts. Nationwide, the aggregate costs of likeminded producers seeking such “favors” result in grossly inefficient and extremely costly distortions in the very marketplace they claim to hold so dear.
The adage that “the perfect need not become the enemy of the good” seems applicable in defense of the school district’s actions.
In short, I encourage SCSD No. 1 to vigorously defend their slight intervention in the marketplace as appropriate and in the best interest of the community. At present, the retail sale of CNG is a fortunate byproduct of the district’s plans for a CNG bus fleet. I, for one, hope it remains so. Of course, I could be biased.
Alan Huston, Pinedale