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Compressed Natural Gas Supporters Spread Message at RNC

Five locations in Florida, including two in Tampa Bay, sell compressed natural gas, officials said.

On Monday morning, the buzz around the second floor of the Republican National Convention wasn't fueled by delegate-spotting or talk of what Tropical Storm Isaac could have been.

It was all about the free coffee.

Representatives from an Oklahoma City-based natural gas company gave out blue and red plastic cards that read "CNG NOW" to anyone who passed by, encouraging them to use it to take advantage of free coffee, espresso and lattes offered each day of the convention.

Using cups of caffeine, they hope to spread the word around Tampa Bay during convention week about the environmental incentives of using compressed natural gas - described as a "clean-burning alternative fuel" - instead of gasoline.

Delegates are even being toted around in a few Chevy Tahoes with tanks full of CNG, which costs roughly $2.19 per gallon in Ft. Lauderdale compared to about $3.75 per gallon for regular gas.

"Your fuel economy is identical," said Norman Herrera, director of marketing development for Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma. "The difference is price on the sign and availability of stations. We're trying to increase the market here."

In Florida, five cities have one compressed natural gas station each: Clearwater, Milton, Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Tampa.

The Tampa station is located at the Tampa International Airport.

While CNG vehicles are pricier than vehicles that use regular gas, Herrera said municipalities or school systems, who typically have fleets of vehicles such as buses or cars, would save money in the long run by purchasing natural gas vehicles they could fuel with CNG.

Officials from Chesapeake Energy say their goal is to encourage utility companies to offer CNG, and explain to convention attendees the benefits of buying CNG vehicles. They're scheduled to attend other national events soon, including the Democratic National Convention next week, to talk about CNG.

"We've got a lot of people who could be advocates of this alternative fuel," said Lindsay McIntyre, media relations coordinator for Chesapeake Energy. "It's an American resource."

For more information, go to CNG NOW online.

What do you think about using compressed natural gas? Let us know in the comments section.

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