In addition to the fueling problem, workers for Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources and Colorado Parks and Wildlife may have difficulties doing their jobs because of Compressed Natural Gas fuel tanks on trucks, memos show.
Some of the complaints found in memos and emails obtained by Watchdog.org are minor, such as maggots from dead animals getting under the tank, or unrealistic, such as fears the tanks will explode on bumpy roads.
But others suggest buying additional equipment, with public money, such as a rack that will hold an ATV off the back of a pickup bed, the records show.
When state fleet was pushing CPW to buy the vehicles, there were concerns for the employees out in the field.
“That is additional cost to the agency and inefficiency,” CPW fleet manager Michelle Arnold wrote in January 2013. “The decreased hauling capacity because of CNG fueling tanks in the back of the bed of the pickups is going to severely limit if not totally preclude the ability of our staff to operate as required.”
REMEDY: A $950 remedy for vehicles equipped with a CNG tank.
In March 2013, State Fleet Manager Ron Clatterbuck suggested the $950 fix in the photo at left to accommodate ATVs with a CNG tank in the truck bed. A $138.99 fix was included in the email.
In an email exchange with Clatterbuck, CPW fleet coordinator Shawn Hermosillo wrote, “It kind of defeats the purpose of a short bed, but that is a cool little set up they’re selling.”
In a separate email to Arnold, Hermosillo wrote, “Wow, just wow.”
Even expressing concern about the practical use of the CNG trucks was frowned upon.
When Hermosillo emailed Clatterbuck in January to ask why wildlife officers could not get a law-enforcement exemption from CGN requirements, Clatterbuck responded: “Well, for one, the CNG pickup does not interfere with CPW’s law enforcement ability to perform their duties in the field,” he wrote.
“With less space available in the bed, it is more of an inconvenience than it is something that would prevent them from doing their jobs,” Clatterbuck wrote. “The point is not to find ways to ‘get away’ from buying a CNG bi-fuel vehicle, but to find ways to buy more and make them work.”
But Arnold previously wrote the mandate to buy CNG vehicles prevents staff from doing their jobs and costs taxpayers money.
“The decreased hauling capacity because of CNG fuel tanks in the back of the bed of the pickups is going to severely limit if not totally preclude the ability of our staff to operate as required,” she wrote in the Jan. 4, 2013 memo. “CPW employees understand the need to order CNG vehicles where it make sense, but as stated above, pickups are ordered for their ability to haul the equipment that the various CPW employees need to do their jobs in an efficient manner. The requirement to order a CNG compliant vehicle with the decreased bed space, will ultimately result in staff needing to purchase additional trailers to haul what they normally would in their pickup beds.”
CPW spokesman Mattt Robbins said his department has not bought any of the ATV racks because they make the truck longer. Instead, CPW workers are towing ATVs behind the trucks.
“As prior to the introduction of CNG vehicles, CPW staff are towing ATV’s and snowmobiles on trailers,” Robbins wrote in an email. “We have seen the short beds hold an ATV but this is not ideal as it required the tailgate to be down and is not designed to hold unnecessary amounts to weight.”
According to a Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman, some CNG pickup models would fit the ATVs despite the CNG tanks, but the Ford pickups the state selected do not because they have a larger CNG tank.
State records show various state departments have about 120 Ford CNG pickups, but it’s not clear how many of them require modifications to accomplish the tasks the state employees need to do.