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 – and completely eliminate our reliance on OPEC – within 10 years if we start using clean, abundant and American natural gas to fuel our trucks, buses and fleets.
In 2013, the U.S. spent $384 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.
Private industry is busily building out the “Natural Gas Highway” by installing natural gas refueling facilities at existing truck stops – natural refueling stops for over-the-road drivers – along our major Interstate Highways.
What are the benefits of natural gas?
Natural gas is domestic; it’s clean and produces 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than diesel or gasoline-powered vehicles.
Most importantly, American natural gas is abundant. Studies by the Potential Gas Committee estimated that America’s natural gas reserves have surged to the point that it is
“the highest resource evaluation in the Committee’s 48-year history, exceeding the previous high assessment from 2010. Most of the increase arose from new evaluations of shale gas resources in the Atlantic, Rocky Mountain and Gulf Coast areas.”
We have the domestic natural gas necessary to fuel our trucks and fleet vehicles, produce power to our homes and still have plenty for other uses like fertilizer, pharmaceutical, 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, FedEx, UPS, Waste Management, Ryder and others. 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 remains one of the greatest threats to our national security and economic growth today. Every President since Richard Nixon has promised to curb it — and all have failed. Over 50% of the oil we consume is produced overseas, and much of it in nations that are unstable, unfriendly to the United States, or both.
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 foreign nations for 50% of our oil and 38% of that comes from OPEC. The danger of even a brief disruption are obvious, but the constant, painful drain on our economy is often forgotten.
Our energy must come from North American sources including Canada and Mexico – already two of our largest oil-trading partners. 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.”