T. Boone predicts good chances for natural gas legislation

After spending nearly three years and more than $80 million of his own money to tout his energy plan, T. Boone Pickens says he finally is about to have something to show for the effort.

On April 6, a bill, known as the Natural Gas Act, which he has championed, will be introduced – again – in Congress. And this time, the billionaire oilman says the legislation has the votes the pass.

“I think we got the deal done,” Pickens told reporters after a luncheon speech at the Petroleum Club of Houston, hosted by the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers and Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists.

“I think we’ll get it through the House before the summer recess.”

The Natural Gas Act would dramatically expand the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel among heavy-duty truck fleets, including 18-wheelers and garbage trucks. Pickens sees the legislation as a key first step in broader adoption of natural gas in the transportation sector and weaning the U.S. from foreign oil.

A similar version of the bill was introduced in the two previous sessions of Congress, but didn’t find the backing needed to move it forward.

The current version, authored by Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla.,  will be more narrowly focused, and thus have a better chance of passing, Pickens said. “We’re hunting now with a rifle, not a shotgun.”

Under what he promotes as the Pickens Plan, Pickens has urged the U.S. to break its dependence on foreign oil and achieve energy independence by using homegrown energy sources.

If the U.S. continues on its current trajectory — importing nearly 70 percent of its daily crude oil needs — the nation could send $10 trillion to other countries over the next 10 years. Pickens calls it “the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.”