Friday, April 16, 2010

Pickens Continues to Push Natural Gas

By Simon Lomax and Mark Drajem
April 14 (Bloomberg) -- T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire energy hedge-fund manager, said U.S. lawmakers should try this year to “jumpstart a natural-gas vehicle industry” instead of passing a greenhouse-gas trading measure he opposes.
“Natural gas is an excellent example of how we can create green jobs,” Pickens, chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said today in testimony for a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Pickens is lobbying Congress to pass tax incentives that encourage the production of trucks fueled with natural gas instead of diesel. The incentives could spur the production of 236,000 “clean natural-gas trucks,” which would displace almost 2 billion gallons of diesel a year, Pickens said.
The debate over energy policy in Congress has been dominated by a plan to cut U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions through a cap-and-trade program, in which companies would buy and sell a declining number of pollution rights. Cap-and-trade legislation narrowly passed the House of Representatives in June. A similar plan in the Senate has failed to advance.
Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading efforts to revamp the cap-and-trade proposal so it can pass this year. Boosting the use of natural gas produced in the U.S. as a transportation fuel has “wide, deep and bipartisan” support in Congress, Pickens said.
“I do not think cap-and-trade can make it,” Pickens said before today’s hearing in an interview on CNBC television. “This administration needs a nonpartisan issue that is huge, and this is huge.”
President Barack Obama should also reverse course on phasing out tax incentives for oil and gas production, Pickens said. Repealing the incentives would raise more than $40 billion over 10 years and help the U.S. “transition to a 21st century energy economy,” Michael Mundaca, an assistant Treasury secretary, said in his testimony.
“Don’t tax the industry,” Pickens said. “If I was going to tax anything, I would tax foreign oil.”
--Editors: Romaine Bostick, Larry Liebert.
To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Lomax in Washington at; Mark Drajem in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at

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