Why the mayor of Williamsport got rid of his natural gas-powered car [UPDATED]

  • Marie Cusick

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If you ask Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana (R) about the natural gas industry, he’ll say he’s a big supporter.
“It’s clean, it’s cheap, and it’s pro-American,” he tells StateImpact Pennsylvania. “It’s been a positive thing for our city.”
Campana was so positive about natural gas, he bought a used Honda Civic that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and installed a fueling station at his home.
“I took out a loan for this,” he told the Williamsport Sun Gazette in early 2012.
But about six months ago, he got rid of the car–and lost money on the deal.

Campana’s mother was hospitalized following a major heart attack, and he was making frequent trips to visit her near Harrisburg.
There simply weren’t enough places to fuel up.
“I couldn’t make it with my car back and forth,” he says. “The mayor was taking the bus. I thought we would see stations in a much faster time.”
Despite Pennsylvania’s abundant supply of natural gas, low CNG prices, and state subsidies, the fuel hasn’t caught on for passenger cars.
Statewide, there are only about 22 public CNG stations.

Bradford County recently bought two new Honda Civics that run on compressed natural gas.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Bradford County recently bought two new Honda Civics that run on compressed natural gas.

As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, CNG is mainly gaining momentum in heavy-duty fleet vehicles– like transit buses and garbage trucks.
Williamsport plans to open a public station next spring and operate its buses on CNG. The project is being financed by the city as well as state and federal grants.
“We’re taking the lead for the region in regards to CNG,” says Campana. “We’re practicing what we’re preaching.”
Campana says his mother is doing better now. Although he won’t say how much money he lost selling his Civic, he’s still bullish when it comes to CNG.
“I’d like to buy another car,” he says, “It had a lot of pep.”
Update 6:57pm: WNEP-TV alerted us to their recent story about the mayor’s car. He reportedly told the station he couldn’t afford the CNG Civic.
Update 8:23pm: Campana tells StateImpact Pennsylvania his words were taken out of context in the news report. He says he told WNEP it was getting expensive to take public transit to Harrisburg so often and since wasn’t making use of the car, he decided to sell it.

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