Path Home Shows 2011 Show Archive September 2011 Show 1139 Pump Fiction - Solving Our Energy Dependence

Pump Fiction - Solving Our Energy Dependence

Value Added: We visit with Ron Mercer and Bob Hammack, co-producers of a new online video called “Pump Fiction,” about why they think their idea is the way to go.
Pump Fiction - Solving Our Energy Dependence

Pump Fiction - Solving Our Energy Dependence

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Pump Fiction

Show Dates

Show 1139: Pump Fiction - Solving Our Energy Dependence

Air date: September 25, 2011



Rob: Now, while the newest fleet of vehicles at OSU won’t be breaking any speed records, they will be saving some taxpayer dollars. To see more about that, simply head to our website at and click on this week’s value added.

Rob: Now, some of the video you’ve been seeing today is straight out of a new online video called “Pump Fiction,” which, get this, proposes to put CNG filling stations at post offices around the nation. Earlier I was able to sit down with its co-producers, Ron Mercer and Bob Hammack, who say they came up with the idea after answering a relative’s question: If I buy one of these, where do I fill it up?

And in working through that process, I was having a conversation with my cousin in Kansas City and, her name is Jan, and she was saying, “OK, I’m sold. You’ve got me sold on this idea. Just tell me two things. Where do I buy one, and how do I fill it up?” And she was right. No one had said, “Here.” No one had offered that answer for her. And so, that’s what brought us to this and how do you do that? And I kind of just went through the process and came up with the post office.

Rob: So can we let it out of the bag? The solution is?

Yeah, putting, putting CNG fill stations at the post office, using the postal facility as a location across the country. There’s 30,000 locations, at least, today there are. Um, and, uh, using the facility to fill the postal vehicles and letting them save a billion dollars a year in fuel costs; plus, making money off of selling natural gas or providing the site to the private sector so that they can sell to the public in some form or fashion. So you, really you kill two birds with one stone that way. And uh, that’s that, and it’s a simple solution.

Rob: Yeah, and how economical is it to put in a CNG filling station?

It’s uh, it’s, today, it’s a more expensive proposition than what I’d like to think about. You know, it’s in the neighborhood of several hundred thousand dollars if you want to have a, you know, a larger facility. Um, I think it can probably be made less for a smaller facility, and just like anything else, you know, you scale it to size.

Well, really the idea is, well, this could, in theory, not cost the federal government and taxpayers any money. Because what you do, the post office would issue an RFP, that’s a request for proposal, and free enterprise would respond. Because free enterprise wants to provide the fuel for the post office to save, so while they’re putting that pump in, and this wouldn’t be about 30,000 stations necessarily. You’d pick out the ones that geographically would work out and have the space. But they would meet the post office needs for their vehicles, 200,000 some vehicles probably. And at the same time, you’d make that pump available for the public. Then as I travel across the country and I want to fill my car up with CNG, all I have to do is look for the American flag, ’cause every post office has one.

Rob: Do either one of you drive a CNG vehicle?

I have one. And uh, my daughter actually drives it right now, but uh, I’ve owned it since ’08, I guess, ’09.

Rob: What’s it like to fill up? What do you do?

Well, it’s a simple process. It takes about the same amount of time as filling up a gasoline vehicle. You attach a kind of a receptacle to your tank, and it’s just a little nipple that comes out like this and you put it on there and turn it on and it takes about five minutes, and that’s it.

Rob: And what about the cost?

Well, as we all know, it’s a whole lot less. In the video, I think at that point in time, what was it, a dollar thirty-nine, dollar thirty-seven? Yeah, dollar thirty-nine a gallon.

At a time when this spring for instance we saw the gas price spike at $4. So here you’re talking about a fuel that really is less than half-price. We marveled how the government came out with a big stimulus package, and we’re in the news again. But think about the money that would be stimulated and be used by American consumers if they were spending half of what they spend on their fuel costs. If the average family spends $3,000, $4,000 a year on fuel, this idea would save them $2,000. That’s an amazing stimulus, uh, impact on our economy because they would have money to spend. Rather than sending it overseas.

Rob: If someone wants to see this video in its entirety, what do they need to do?

Well, we suggest you go to YouTube; type in the word pumpfiction; it’s all one word, p-u-m-p-f-i-c-t-i-o-n, pumpfiction. We’ve had over 7,500 hits, closing in on 8,000. And what’s interesting is the 8,000 viewers that we’ve had have been from all around the world. And all of the comments that people have made, almost without exception, are people saying, wow what a great idea, it’s so obvious, why didn’t somebody think about this before. And we have post offices that are starting to be closed; this is a great way to maybe keep some of those open. But the fact is, the post office will save a significant amount of money, whereas Obama has mandated that in 2015, starting that year, all federal vehicles have to convert to alternative fuels. Let’s make sure that it’s CNG. The federal government will save money. Consumers will save money. And the country will benefit from it.

Rob: So I do have to ask. What was the motivation behind doing this video?

Well, as Bob was saying earlier, we have many conversations about the national dialogue and that there really wasn’t a clear solution being offered. And so we tried to develop that, and that was our sole motivation, just trying to do the right thing. We don’t have any financial interest in it other than what’s come out of our pockets.

Rob: So no one’s making any money off of this?

No. All the people who appeared in the video did so without any compensation. We paid for all the expenses. We didn’t seek any corporate money whatsoever. We did it because we think it’s the right thing to do. I read once that we all came to America on different ships, but the fact is that we’re all in the same boat. So we think it’s important for all Americans to get involved, come up with ways to try to help make our country better, and this is one small way to do it. It has a great impact for American drivers, of course, and the post office at the same time.

Rob: Yeah, well, good luck with this thing. And congratulations on an innovative video and just being good Americans. Thank you both. Now if you’d like to see that entire video, we do have a link to it on our website at