Tom O’Brien sees what he termed “the shale revolution” coming to the trucking business, and indicated his company and many others are intent on participating in it.

Mr. O’Brien, president and CEO of TravelCenters of America LLC in Westlake, made his observations in his keynote speech Wednesday morning, Sept. 18, at the Great Lakes Truck Expo at the Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland. He spoke at length about the impact that natural gas exploration in the Utica and Marcellus shale regions of Ohio and Pennsylvania could have on the nation, the trucking industry and TravelCenters.

“The shale revolution has created a new opportunity to meaningfully grow the U.S. economy,” the head of the operator of highway travel centers told his audience. “I believe that this is, this could be, the largest single advantage that the U.S. has enjoyed in the last century.”

Mr. O’Brien said growing demand for natural gas by the transportation sector “seems surely to mean that at the very least, natural gas, particularly liquid natural gas, is likely to be a true alternative, a true option for fueling alongside diesel, in the coming years.”

“And now it comes to all of us to figure out how to best bring this resource to bear positively,” he said. “It is now up to us — the equipment manufacturers; all of those in the infrastructure and distribution arena; all of the companies and the drivers who are actually going to use alternative fuels — to work together to use our new advantage wisely. This is the latest in a long, historical string of U.S. competitive advantages, and future alternatives to foreign-based, pollutant-heavy fuels are here today and here to stay.”

According to Mr. O’Brien, many large trucking fleets “are actively evaluating, testing or converting their fleets or portions of their fleets.”

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