WASHINGTON, April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Flanked on either side by more than a dozen natural gas-powered vehicles—ranging from passenger cars to 18 wheelers—renowned entrepreneur and energy icon T. Boone Pickens urged his fellow Americans and Congressional leaders "to look to America's clean, abundant and affordable natural gas reserves as the key to our energy future."
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Pickens was joined by a number of members of Congress, who underscored the importance of natural gas both to their home districts and the country in general. NGVAmerica, which represents the natural gas vehicle industry, sponsored today's event, which was free and open to the public.
"Every month I report on how much money our country is spending on imported oil," says Pickens. "March tipped the scale as we spent nearly $40 billion—$922,912 per minute—on imported oil, representing a staggering 72% of our oil needs. We are here today to show the country that we are doing something, and we can do a lot more by getting off OPEC oil and onto cleaner, abundant, American natural gas."
"Last year natural gas vehicles displaced more than 350 million gallons of petroleum in the United States," said Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica.
"More and more manufacturers are providing natural gas vehicles because their customers are asking for them," Kolodziej added. "When you have companies such as AT&T and Ryder, whose vehicles are on display here today, and many others, you know that these vehicles are proven and reliable. And, most importantly to fleets, their fuel costs are much lower. This is good for jobs, for the environment and for the country."
Vehicles powered by American natural gas came from all over the country and were provided by numerous companies, organizations, and manufacturers, including Ryder System, Inc.; the Vehicle Production Group, Inc.; BAF Technologies; IMPCO Automotive; Westport; General Motors Corp.; Washington Gas; Kenworth; Dillon Transport; Navistar; and others.
"Natural gas is a readily available, viable solution to the portfolio of energies America must leverage to keep this country leading the world," said Pickens. "These natural gas vehicles are the symbol of the future of America—I applaud any organization that uses them," he said. "As a country, if we fail to invest in American energy to enhance national security and economic security and stability, we're going to watch other nations pass us by and go down as the dumbest generation."
Today's event came on the heels of Congress looking for ways to play its part in America's energy future.
Last week, U.S. Representatives John Sullivan (R-OK), Dan Boren (D-OK), John Larson (D-CT), and Kevin Brady (R-TX), who participated in today's event, introduced H.R. 1380, the "New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions" (NAT GAS) Act of 2011. The NAT GAS Act was highlighted by President Obama as a bipartisan solution in a recent speech about energy at Georgetown University. The bill jump-starts the use of natural gas fuel in our nation's transportation sector by offering limited tax credits and federal regulatory changes to encourage the production and purchase of natural gas vehicles.
Since its April 6 introduction, the bipartisan legislation has recruited nearly 160 cosponsors from both sides of the political aisle, underscoring the deep and bipartisan support for this American fuel.
"Natural gas is a cleaner, cheaper, more abundant alternative to foreign oil, and it is in both our economic and national security interest to use the vast reserves we have right here in our own backyard as the bridge fuel towards energy security," said Congressman John Sullivan, who serves as vice chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee. "Currently, 69% of the oil consumed in America is used for transportation, two-thirds of which we import from foreign nations—with gas prices approaching $4 to $5 per gallon, there is no time like the present to incorporate more natural gas vehicles into our transportation portfolio."
"As $4 gasoline continues to drain the pocket books of working Eastern Oklahomans, it is time for Congress to act," said Congressman Dan Boren. "By fully utilizing our nation's vast natural gas resources, we have a real opportunity to make a positive and sweeping impact on our energy and economic future."
"Natural gas is affordable, abundant and American. It costs one-third less to fill up with natural gas than gasoline and, maybe more importantly, we have enough natural gas in the U.S. to meet our energy needs for the next 100 years. On top of that, if we start making cars and trucks that run on natural gas, there's the potential to create over a half a million American jobs. Today's event is a great opportunity for members of Congress and the public to get a first-hand look at what's possible here and now," said Congressman John Larson, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
"For America's energy independence, establishing a viable second transportation fuel is a game changer," said Congressman Kevin Brady. "Targeting business fleets and cargo trucks that offer the greatest promise, this bill creates a strong five-year window to build, buy and refuel natural gas vehicles here at home."