We are well aware that T Boone Pickens is primarily interested in selling some of his huge holdings of natural gas. Aside from that, he is correct in pointing out that America does have a large supply of domestically produced natural gas. Furthermore, that natural gas when liquefied is a cleaner fuel when used to power internal combustion engines and is generally cheaper than petroleum based fuels. In addition, it is relatively straightforward and not prohibitively expensive to convert many types of vehicles to use liquefied natural gas as their fuel source. In fact, in most major metropolitan areas one does see numerous vehicles including buses, utility trucks, and even taxicabs that indicate they are operating on ‘clean’ natural gas technology.
The infrastructure required to distibute liquefied natural gas, convert vehicles to operate on LNG, and provide convenient fueling opportunites already exists in many parts of the country. It doesn’t take a fancy economist or high-level engineer for many to conclude there is a powerful opportunity here to further another of the many small steps required to lessen ‘America’s Petroleum Addiction’. If this action is relatively cheap to implement and cheaper to operate we need to proceed right now. We realize that, in the long run, this approach suffers from the same limitation as petroleum in that it is a ‘nonrenewable’ resource. On the other hand, we currently have plentiful domestic supplies of natural gas and we should be taking advantage of our market position and current capabilities with this fuel source.
Any plan has it’s detractors. Many will say ’so what’, this idea will not have a major impact on our long term petroleum problem. We disagree. A decline of even a percent or two in our utilization of imported oil for vehicle fuels could be worth billions of dollars. None of this will happen unless we step up and ride on the bus to cleaner (and cheaper) transportation.