Bus fleet savings show capabilities of gas industry

One of the more pleasant bits of news to come out of Williamsport city budget talks was the disclosure that the River Valley Transit system is saving $400,000 a year by converting its fleet from diesel fuel to natural gas.

And there is more savings on the way. While 10 compressed natural gas buses are in use, another eight are expected to be added in the next year to the system, which carries 1.3 million passengers a year.

These facts are worth noting to balance the news ledger sheet regarding natural gas.

There is no shortage of scare stories regarding fracking.

There is a pretty intense accusatory lobby calling for more taxes and more regulations on the industry.

In our view, it’s fine to demand safeguards, monitoring and constantly updated methodology to assure that the process of producing natural gas is environmentally safe.

We believe that is what has happened in the past decade.

We also believe there should be legislative and regulatory vigilance to make sure landowners leasing property for natural gas drilling get their full share and to assure that any taxes that might be added to the industry in the future are not systematically passed on to consumers.

And it’s fine to never stop watchdogging the industry in every way.

But an objective view should include hopes that the industry thrives in Pennsylvania and remains here, producing revenues, jobs and relatively economical energy for consumers and, yes, local governments.

A broad-based energy ability creates independence and strength for Pennsylvania and the nation.

It’s fine to hold the industry’s feet to the fire. But while we are doing that, we need to acknowledge that savings such as those for the city’s bus fleet are a quantifiable indicator of how valuable the natural gas industry can be to our community, state and nation.