Close to three years after oil man turned clean energy advocate T. Boone Pickens launched his Picken’s Plan, which seeks to give gas-guzzling Americans an oil intervention, the 82-year-old has just reached a major milestone. On Wednesday, Congressmen John Sullivan (R-OK), Dan Boren (D-OK), John Larson (D-CT) and Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced into the House the NAT GAS Act, (H.R. 1380), a bill that would give manufacturers and buyers of natural gas-powered vehicles significant tax credits.
The Act is Picken’s baby, and the culmination of everything he’s been working on for the past three years. In a media call the Congressmen heartily thanked Pickens for his leadership on the issue. In an interview with me right before Pickens and the Congressmen made the official announcement on a media call, Pickens told me the introduction of the bill is “the first step to put us at the big table for energy.”
The whole idea behind the NAT GAS Act is to move big rigs and fleet vehicles onto natural gas. Pickens thinks the bill could enable the production of 8 million 18-wheelers powered by natural gas, over several years, which he says could cut out half of the oil imported from OPEC to the U.S. These natural gas vehicles would largely be made by auto-makers — compared to vehicles that are retrofitted to run on natural gas — and if signed into law, the Act could essentially spur an entire new industry around natural gas vehicle manufacturing.
Well, first it’s got to pass the muster of a Congress that’s focused on budget woes and stopping the government from essentially shutting down. Pickens and lawmakers have tried to get the NAT GAS Act passed into law before, and introduced a similar one as far back as 2009. If you remember back then there was still talk of a comprehensive climate bill that the NAT GAS would have likely been wrapped up into, but two years later those overarching climate bill talks have largely died out.
There are a few reasons why this time around the mood could be different. Pickens thinks that focusing on narrow pieces of a clean energy strategy, instead of pushing through a comprehensive clean energy bill, will find better favor and bipartisan support. On top of that there’s high profile turmoil in the Middle East, and gas prices are rising again. And the bill is bi-partisan. Pickens told me in our interview he thinks the bill will be signed into law by the end of this year. The full video interview is embedded below: