GARY | Marty Ozinga IV said his family-owned business doesn't make it a practice to publicly pat itself on the back, but with the opening of the company's new compressed natural gas station, felt it was necessary.
"We feel like we have a responsibility to let people know how exciting this is," Ozinga said Tuesday. "Ultimately, it's something that makes our country and our community stronger."
Ozinga hosted more than 100 people at the company's Gary facility at 400 Blaine St. just northeast of Cline Ave. and U.S. 12 on Tuesday morning to celebrate the grand opening of the new compressed natural gas station there. The station, which is open to the public, will help fuel some of the fleet of alternative fuel vehicles at that company and others.
The company bought its first natural gas-powered concrete mixer in 2008 and created Ozinga Energy as a consulting firm aimed at teaching other businesses how to convert to renewable fuels.
"They're truly pioneers in reducing our dependence on foreign oil," said Carl Lisek, executive director of South Shore Clean Cities.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the grand opening was made possible through partnerships with a host of stakeholders.
"When we put our heads together and put our efforts toward the same goal, great things can happen," Freeman-Wilson said.
Freeman-Wilson said Ozinga demonstrates "you can be environmentally sound and still protect your bottom line."
She said the city is working to convert some of its general services fleet to compressed natural gas in an effort to join the movement.
Shawn Seals, senior environmental manager for the office of air quality at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said compressed natural gas reduces emissions significantly over diesel fuels.
Seals said compressed natural gas reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 75 percent, nitrous oxide by 15 percent, particulate matter by 90 percent and volatile organic compounds by 55 percent when used in place of diesel fuels.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, praised Ozinga's efforts at the Tuesday event.
"This day is exactly why it is a wise thing to invest a small portion of the money we spend of our tax dollars on renewable energy in the United States," Visclosky said.
Visclosky, a native of Gary's Glen Park neighborhood, said he was pleased to see the investment and innovation taking place in the city.
"This is a for-profit investment that helps solve our energy crisis," Visclosky said.