T. Boone Pickens pushes for natural gas

February 11, 2010 8:58:53 PM PST
With gas prices dropping again, it is easy to forget how dependent we still are on foreign oil, particularly from the volatile Middle East, but Texas tycoon and energy guru T. Boone Pickens has not forgotten. He brought his push to the Bay Area Thursday, for switching our cars to a different fuel hidden beneath the ground.

Pickens knows energy. He made most of his $3 billion in oil and natural gas.

"Forty years our country has had no energy plan, none, zero," says Pickens.

And now he is working on Washington to pass an energy bill by this summer, one that will accelerate the conversion of big trucks from diesel to natural gas.

"It's a bridge to get you to the battery. The battery won't move an 18-wheeler, so you're either going to move it with diesel or you're going to move it with natural gas, and natural gas is 50 percent cleaner than diesel," says Pickens.

Pickens told ABC7 getting the natural gas to fueling stations will not be a problem. One of his companies claims to be the largest supplier of natural gas for transportation in North America.

When asked if he had some significant holdings in natural gas, Pickens told ABC7, "Well I do, but I'm not a producer."

Pickens says it is the American way to make a profit and he will if the legislation he is backing goes through. It will offer government incentives of $80,000 per truck to convert to natural gas.

"You take one trash truck on diesel off the road, it's equivalent to 325 cars," says Pickens.

In the audience was former Secretary of State George Shultz who likes the idea.

"It's less pollution for one thing. We have a lot ourselves, so we're supplying ourselves, we're not having to import it from other places," says Schultz.

And Shultz says the foreign policy costs of oil are far greater than those reflected in the price of a barrel.

Pickens was speaking at a fundraising lunch for Oakland Military Institute, a college prep academy founded in 2001 by then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown.

Though Democratic Attorney General Brown has not officially announced his run for governor, his reaction to Pickens' proposal, sure sounds like he is.

"That's a very provocative idea and it's certainly something we're going to have to look at," says Brown.