The NYT’s Joe Nocera feels the same way about the Nat Gas Act as I do. We both acknowledge the fact that it will be very beneficial to its champion, T. Boone Pickens…and we both say “so what?”
Can’t something be good for the country and good for the man behind an $80 million lobbying effort at the same time?
Here’s Joe on why the Nat Gas Act is obviously good policy:
The Pickens bill creates tax incentives — $1 billion a year for five years — to encourage manufacturers to begin building heavy-duty trucks that will be powered by natural gas instead of diesel. It also gives some tax incentives to truck-stop owners who install natural gas filling stations to help create the infrastructure.
On the face of it, this seems like a pretty small goal for a guy who’s got such big ideas about energy independence. Partly, Boone is being realistic. It would be politically impossible to convert cars to natural gas or to ask for gigantic tax breaks in this time of austerity.
Even so, this one small step could make a big difference. Of the 20 million barrels of oil we use each day, 70 percent goes for transportation fuel. The 8 million heavy-duty trucks on the road today account for 23 percent of that fuel. Although the tax incentives in the Pickens bill would be enough to cover only about 140,000 new trucks, he hopes that it will catapult the industry toward natural gas even without the subsidies. Just moving the country’s big trucks to natural gas, he says, could cut our OPEC imports in half.
More voices of reason in support of nat gas-powered vehicles. Good. Read the rest of Nocera’s column below.