Just A Little Reminder
While the price per barrel of oil has fallen from the last summer highs, it's beginning to rise again. What hasn't changed is the percentage of oil we import every day: over the past 12 months we have continued to import nearly two-thirds of the oil we use.
Most of the oil we import is used as a transportation fuel - cars, trucks, aircraft, boats and trains. About one barrel out of every five is used as diesel fuel to power heavy trucks -- 18-wheelers.
I am all for developing battery and fuel cell technology - or some other technology which is still in the laboratory stage. But neither batteries nor hydrogen are ready for widespread distribution to our national fleet of approximately 250 million cars and light trucks. A battery also won't push an 18-wheeler. The only fuel which is available to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is domestic natural gas.
Due to recent advances in technology, we now have the ability to recover natural gas from the enormous deposits in Texas, Louisiana and Appalachia in the lower 48 states. In fact, a recent study by the Potential Gas Committee estimates that natural gas reserves have surged by 35 percent. The 2,074 trillion cubic feet of domestic natural gas reserves cited in the study is the equivalent of nearly 350 billion barrels of oil, about the same as Saudi Arabia's oil reserves.
Natural gas is cheaper than diesel fuel. Natural gas is cleaner than diesel. It's abundant. And it's ours.
The time to act is now and the NAT GAS Act is the best tool we've had in decades to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
The NAT GAS Act of 2009 is a bi-partisan bill in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House, Congressmen Boren (D-OK), Larson (D-CT) and Sullivan (R-OK) introduced H.R. 1835 on April 1 and it already has more than 110 bi-partisan cosponsors. In the Senate, Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Hatch (R-UT) were joined by Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to introduce S. 1408 on July 8.
The NAT GAS Act provides industry with the incentives to replace older diesel trucks with newer natural gas vehicles -- it's a great step in the right direction. It will provide the momentum for engine manufacturers, natural gas producers and natural gas distributors to ramp up and make a real difference in our dependence on foreign oil.