Where does former oil magnate T. Boone Pickens turn to help implement his Pickens Plan after the difficult debt markets put a cramp in his wind power plans, the fallen price of fuel slashed his hedge fund, and the voters of California rejected an alternative vehicle funding proposal? Like everyone else who wants to fund green projects: the economic stimulus package. Pickens is reportedly asking for as much as $28 billion to convert diesel trucks to run on natural gas, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Say what?! If the stimulus package ends up at $800 billion that would be 3.5 percent of it to convert 350,000 trucks from diesel to natural gas, at a cost of around $75,000 per vehicle. The benefits, Pickens says, is that it would create about 454,470 jobs and reduce oil imports by 5.14 percent.
But natural gas is still a fossil fuel, and according to the Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVA) natural gas vehicles only reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent over a standard gas vehicle. Cleantech venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has called the natural gas vehicle plan “a dead-end” because of the lack of serious emissions reductions. In the short term those diesel trucks could run on biodiesel, and in the long run the government should spend that kind of money on a cleaner form of alternative transportation like electric vehicles.