Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have sponsored the NAT GAS Act. This bill is aimed at giving natural gas the push it needs to become part of the cure for America’s oil addiction. Senator Reid (D-Nevada) is also an original co-sponsor.
“Each day, our nation consumes about 21 million barrels of oil- more than 25 percent of the world’s oil supply,” Reid said. And most of that oil comes from foreign soil. “With only 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, we cannot produce our way to a safe and secure energy future,” Reid continued.
The new legislation would promote the use of natural gas over traditional oil by using tax credits. This legislation would, in effect, be an extension of the CLEAR Act – encouraging the growth of natural-gas infrastructures to go along with the current boom in hybrid-electric vehicles.
“In 2005, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, I was able to get the CLEAR Act enacted into law,” Hatch said. “That legislation has promoted the purchase of alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles, alternative-fuel infrastructure and the use of alternative fuels in vehicles. I have been very pleased with the growth in the use of hybrid-electric vehicles in this country since the passage of the CLEAR Act, but I have been less pleased with the growth in natural gas as a transportation fuel. I believe strongly an extra push is needed to spur the greater use of natural gas and to get more natural gas vehicles on our roads.”
That push is what the co-sponsors of this bill hope to achieve. “By making it easier and cheaper to own a vehicle that runs on natural gas, we can help families save money on energy, create new manufacturing jobs and clean our air,” Menendez said.
Ried said that he’s “proud to join with Senators Menendez and Hatch in introducing legislation that will help encourage the development of natural gas vehicles to help save consumers and operators thousands of dollars per year, protect our environment, and decrease our dependence on foreign energy. We must get serious about using cleaner burning natural gas and renewable energy, and this legislation is a strong step in the right direction.”
“Clean” is a key word when it comes to natural gas. According to the EPA, cars running on natural gas cut overall toxic emissions by 93-95 percent. But clean isn’t the only buzz word that floats around the natural gas reservoirs. “Abundance” is also important, and with 98% of natural gas used in the U.S. originating right here in North America, the word “domestic” can also be tossed into salad.
But it isn’t only the Senators who are proud to stand and introduce this bi-partisan legislation. T. Boone Pickens was right along side the Senators as they introduced the bill.
“I am proud to stand with Senator Menendez and co-sponsors Majority Leader Reid and Senator Hatch in support of this important natural gas legislation,” said Pickens. “This bipartisan legislation does more to reduce our foreign oil dependency crisis than any other piece of legislation in the past 40 years. As I have said many times before and will continue to say, natural gas is cleaner, cheaper, it’s abundant and it’s American.”
However, all natural gas news isn’t good. While the majority of the natural gas consumed by Americans is domestically produced (on the North American continent), the Middle East remains the world’s natural gas reservoir. The CIA estimates “with a high degree of confidence” that Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates hold approximately 65.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. The United States and Canada combined can’t even hold a pilot light to the Middle East with a measly 7.6 trillion cubic meters.
Shifting dramatically to a natural gas economy (rather than an oil economy), doesn’t guarantee domestic energy dependence. Being the world’s number one consumer of oil would translate into being the world’s number one consumer of natural gas, which would put us precariously (and perhaps ironically) on the edge of foreign (Middle Eastern) dependence once again.
While natural gas may be a cleaner source of energy than oil, it emits more carbon monoxide than oil. This legislation may be a step in freeing ourselves from oil, but trading one bad habit for another isn’t the right idea. To replace oil with natural gas would, in the end, put us right back where we started.
Photo Credit: danielbachhuber via flickr under Creative Commons License
Map Credit: lonelyplanet.com