NATURAL GAS AND THE PICKENS PLAN:
REDUCING OUR RELIANCE ON OPEC OIL
The Pickens Plan reduces U.S. reliance on OPEC oil, and helps secure our energy future. Other key benefits include reduced air pollution and lower emission of gases that cause global warming. We can reduce our oil dependence by 30 percent or more within 10 years if we start using clean, abundant and American natural gas to fuel our trucks, buses and fleets.
In 2011, the U.S. spent $453 billion on oil from OPEC and other foreign countries. The largest consumers of OPEC oil in the form of gasoline and diesel in this country are the trucks and fleets that move goods. Running primarily from point to point, or from distribution center to distribution center, these heavy trucks and fleets consume incredible amounts of fuel while operating at low fuel efficiency. Companies and local governments that rely on these fleets can reduce their cost of operation by using natural gas cluster-based distribution and central fueling locations.
What are the benefits of natural gas?
Natural gas is domestic; it’s clean and produces 22 to 29 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel or gasoline-powered vehicles.
Most importantly, American natural gas is abundant. A recent study by the Potential Gas Committee estimated that America’s natural gas reserves have surged.
We have the domestic natural gas necessary to fuel our trucks and fleet vehicles, produce power to our homes and for other uses such as fertilizer and chemical production.
Are there examples of natural gas vehicles already in use?
There are more than 10 million vehicles in the world running on natural gas, so this is a well-tested technology. However, less than 2% – only about 130,000 of them – are in the U.S.
Significant fleets of natural gas-powered trucks are already in use by companies such as AT&T, UPS, and Waste Management. Numerous municipalities use natural gas to power their bus and garbage truck fleets, including Washington, D.C. In Los Angeles alone there are more than 2,800 natural gas buses in operation.
Why should we increase our use of natural gas now?
America’s dependence on OPEC oil is the greatest threat to our national and economic security today. Every President since Nixon has promised to curb it — and all have failed. Over 60% of the oil we consume is produced overseas, and much of it in nations unfriendly to the United States.
Think about this: in 1970, the U.S. imported only about 24% of its oil. Ask anyone who lived through the OPEC oil embargo about the havoc it caused on our economy. Now, we depend on OPEC nations for more than 60% of our oil, and the incredible potential danger of even a brief disruption are obvious.
Our energy must come from American sources. And we need to make the transition as quickly as possible. Only natural gas can do that and act as the immediate bridge to tomorrow’s technologies.
Is there support for expanded use of natural gas?
Absolutely. The Center for American Progress for example issued a memo — Natural Gas: A Bridge Fuel for the 21st Century — that highlighted the numerous benefits of this domestic power source, including the economic ones. “Using clean domestic natural gas will also enhance our economy. Since it is produced in the United States, higher gas demand will create more jobs, and using domestic gas in lieu of imported oil would reduce our trade imbalance, keeping energy dollars at home instead of exporting oil dollars overseas.”