NEW YORK — Governor George E. Pataki announced a new public-private partnership between the state and Clean Energy — the largest provider of vehicular natural gas in North America — that will create a "clean fuel corridor" in New York by opening eight compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations across the state to the public for the first time. The initiative will make CNG fuel more readily available and further promote the use of clean-fueled vehicles by local governments, schools, businesses, and other New Yorkers. The Governor was joined by Andrew Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy, state and local officials, and industry representatives during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the public opening of one new station, located at the Perry B. Duryea, Jr. State Office Building in Hauppauge, Suffolk County. Current law allows state-operated fueling stations to sell only to state vehicles. To extend fueling availability beyond state agencies and facilitate the use of clean-fueled vehicles in the state, New York recently entered into a partnership with Clean Energy to build a network of high volume, CNG stations on state-owned lands in major metropolitan areas or along heavily traveled routes. New York State's agreement with Clean Energy calls for the company to take over operations and management of seven existing, state-owned, high-volume CNG stations located throughout the state and to construct one new station. The eight stations recently opened to the general public and local governments and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The agreement also allows consideration of additional sites in the future. According to Clean Energy, using natural gas is one of the best ways to reduce harmful air pollutants because natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline and other alternative fuels, reducing tailpipe emissions by up to 95 percent. In addition, factory-built natural gas vehicles produce emission levels lower than any other fuel except for hydrogen, even lower than some electric cars when power plant emissions are taken into account. New York State's Clean Fueled Vehicle Program was created in 1996 through Governor Pataki's Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act. The program was established within OGS with the purpose of acquiring clean-fueled vehicles for state use and testing and evaluating new technologies. The program is operated by the Clean-Fueled Vehicle Council, which includes OGS and representatives from 16 agencies and the State University of New York. Beginning in model year 1997, the Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) required State agencies to increase acquisitions of alternative-fueled vehicles for state fleets. New York State has exceeded these federally mandated requirements for the sixth consecutive year — in model year 2003 by nearly 14 percent. In 1995, the state owned almost no clean-fueled vehicles. New York State currently has close to 4,000 alternative-fueled vehicles in its fleet, using a variety of different fuels, such as CNG, ethanol, propane, electric, and hybrid vehicles. These vehicles make up almost 29 percent of the total vehicles in the state's fleet. By 2009, that number is expected to jump to 62 percent.