In last weeks Big 2 Energy Report, we spoke with U.S. energy leader T. Boone Pickens, who's urging congress to pass new legislation that would cut down on foreign oil imports by increasing the use of natural gas in the U.S. Now it's up to Washington to make it happen.
There are currently 64 million cars registered in the U.S. The majority of them run on gasoline obtained by purifying crude oil, most of which is imported from overseas. That's why T. Boone Pickens is urging Congress to act on legislation that would replace foreign oil by using natural gas to fuel our country's large fleet vehicles. It's something that a lot of countries are already doing. "This thing is a movement going on around the world. You now have 12 million vehicles in the world that run on natural gas. In the U.S. we have 130 thousand," says Pickens.
Bills were introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2009, which offer incentives for businesses and trucking companies to make the move to natural gas. "It provides tax credits for folks who use trucks and cars with natural gas. It provides tax credits to build the infrastructure..filling stations and those kinds of things, " says Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Dist. 11).
The New Alternative Transportation To Give Americans Solutions Act (HR 1835) is the bill that was introduced to the House of Representatives last year. It has 137 co-sponsors which, according to Pickens, could easily be increased. "It's split about 50/50, Democrat/Republican. So I know the support is there if you can get it to the floor," he says. Rep. Mike Conaway is among those in favor of the legislation.
The Senate was introduced to similar legislation last year. Pickens says he's confident they'll pass S. 1408, who's lead sponsor is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Congressman Conaway explains why supporters want to see it pass. "If we can convert a significant number of trucks and cars to compressed natural gas, it could dramatically reduce our dependency on foreign crude oil," he says. "It would also be an improvement in the emissions from cars and trucks than what we're doing. So it's a win all the way around the board."
Local energy industry leaders agree. "We support anything that helps the natural gas industry," says Ben Sheppard, Permian Basin Petroleum Association Vice Chairman. "I'm not sure what to expect from this Congress, but we're optimistic they're eager to find solutions to our energy problems."
Pickens is confident that we'll see this legislation pass by Memorial Day. Congressman Conaway, on the other hand, says that while it does have a good chance, it's not a done deal. "If you look at the President's budget, he wants to strip out percentage depletion, as well as the immediate deduction of intangible drilling cost out of the tax code," says Conaway. "That would cost billions and billions of dollars in new taxes on to the oil and gas industry and would reduce our ability to drill for natural gas."
For more information, visit http://www.pickensplan.com