Pickens Criticizes Major Political Parties, Calls for Converting Trucks to Natural Gas
By Daniel P. Bearth, Staff Writer
This story appears in the Oct. 8 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
ATLANTA — T. Boone Pickens renewed his call to convert the nation’s 8 million heavy-duty trucks from diesel fuel to domestically produced natural gas and criticized leaders from both major political parties for not having the “guts” to pass legislation providing tax incentives to help buyers cover the higher cost of the trucks.
Pickens cited a vote in the U.S. Senate to reject an amendment to a highway funding bill that would have provided tax credits for the purchase of natural gas-powered trucks. Opponents of the amendment and similar proposals in Congress argue that it would unfairly subsidize natural gas over diesel.
“Republicans and Democrats say, ‘Elect me and I’ll make the United States energy independent.’ How are we doing?” Pickens asked in a presentation at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals annual meeting here Oct. 2.
Pickens, a successful oil and gas executive who said he has contributed millions of dollars to support political candidates over the years, said he was “hurt” by the lack of support and by the failure of political leaders to devise a policy that would reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil.
“Here’s the choice,” Pickens said. “We can have domestic energy or imports and we’ve picked the winner by not having the guts to do something.”
Pickens said the conversion to lower-cost natural gas will happen, but that tax incentives would have accelerated the process.
In California, Pickens said, the South Coast Air Quality Management District provides a model for how a conversion program would work. The agency identified trash trucks as a major source of air pollution and came up with a program that offered $50,000 towards the purchase of new natural-gas powered trucks.
As a consequence, now nearly two thirds of new trash trucks purchased are fueled by natural gas, according to Andrew Littlefair, president of Clean Energy Fuels, Seal Beach, Calif., a company affiliated with Pickens that is building natural gas fueling stations. Littlefair appeared with Pickens at the CSCMP annual conference.
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