T. Boone Pickens pushes House to boost natural gas vehicles

Billionaire oil magnate T. Boone Pickens on Wednesday pushed House lawmakers to pass legislation that expands use of natural gas-powered vehicles as a way to reduce oil imports.

In testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, which is holding a hearing on energy tax policy Wednesday, Pickens touted the “New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2009” that has 142 House cosponsors.

It includes new and expanded tax credits for natural gas vehicles, including credits for manufacturing the vehicles — which are currently a small market segment — and a long-term extension of credits for installing natural gas refueling infrastructure at gasoline stations or elsewhere.

Pickens argues the legislation would create 600,000 jobs sees potential for using natural gas to replace diesel fuel in truck fleets.

“Heavy-duty trucks use approximately one-third of the oil we import as a transportation fuel. And, because heavy-duty trucks either go home to the barn every night or, if they are over-the-road 18-wheelers, they tend to run the same routes on a regular basis. Therefore, the often-cited argument against NGVs, 'We don’t have the refueling infrastructure,' doesn’t apply," Pickens said in his submission to the committee.

“If Henry Ford had decided not to build the Model T based upon the availability of gas stations, where would be today?” he added.