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Gracias a La Nacionalización De Los Hidrocarburos: a Critical Analysis of Bolivia’s Transition to Compressed Natural Gas

Description: This paper critically analyzes the implementation of compressed natural gas and the ways in which it creates discourse in urban Bolivia. The rapidly developing nation is keen on making ubiquitous use of compressed natural gas a reality by issuing subsidies, citing increased mobility, savings, and environmental stewardship as the primary motives. Currently, eight out of every 10 public vehicles in Bolivia are powered by compressed natural gas. Through semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and secondary data collection, this paper elucidates the transitional process of building a natural gas-based transport network through discursive governance. This work draws on the critical discourse analysis literature to dissect disaggregated modal preference data, government documents, and news articles collected in Santa Cruz, Latin America's second fastest growing city. Moreover, this paper identifies and examines the ways in which the counter-discourse impacts the transformation of the country’s energy matrix. Results show that Bolivian automobile owners are reluctant to convert their automobiles, despite reduced transportation costs, stating that minimal compressed natural gas infrastructure exists outside of urban areas, and the conversion damages their vehicles’ motor. Additionally, the research reveals that automobile owners are currently the main beneficiaries, though respondents who do not posses an automobile speak more favorably of natural gas. Finally, this research illustrates that the compressed natural gas-oriented policies encourage personal automobile use that continues to drive socio-spatial segregation of Santa Cruz’s residents. Thus, the compressed natural gas discourse helps shape the urban landscape by persuading the public to consume domestically extracted and manufactured natural gas.
Date: May 2015
Creator: McCollum, Jerl Levi
Partner: UNT Libraries