By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Governor Tom Corbett stopped by today to say “fill ‘er up” at Philadelphia’s first natural gas vehicle fueling station.

Corbett noted that he supports the widespread use of natural gas vehicles because they use a cheaper, cleaner, American fuel.

“It’s our energy independence from the Mideast,” the governor claims.

Bala Cynwyd-based VNG, which is bringing natural gas fueling to market, opened its first facility in the city at a BP-branded gas station and Dunkin’ Donuts, on Abbottsford Avenue, just off Roosevelt Boulevard.  VNG is building multiple stations in markets across the US.

VNG chief operating officer Robert Friedman says Detroit automakers now realize that there is a long-lasting supply of natural gas to be extracted from shale areas, which will prompt them to produce more natural gas-operated, light-duty vehicles, including pickup trucks, vans, and passenger cars.

“It uses the same brands, same models, and same internal combustion engine,” Friedman notes.  “The only thing different is the fuel tank.”

He says natural gas as a transportation fuel is one of the best ways to maximize America’s natural gas resources and lower fuel costs for drivers while supporting the nation’s environmental and energy independence.

Gov. Corbett said he expects demand to continue to grow as drivers realize they can change the way in which the country uses energy by relying on homegrown compressed natural gas (“CNG”) — a gallon of which, he says, is at least $1.20 cheaper than regular gas.

Supporters say that 45 percent of the natural gas supply now comes from the Marcellus Shale region; two years ago, it was just five percent.  And Pennsylvania, they point out, has the second largest natural gas reserve in the world.