Energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens fills up his tank with natural gas for less than $1 a gallon. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal compared to paying upwards of $4 at the pump these days.
Not only would the switch to natural gas seal the leak in Americans’ wallets, it would greatly reduce America’s dependence on OPEC foreign oil, which accounts for a quarter of the nation’s daily oil consumption.
Pickens points out that the U.S. has three times that of Saudi Arabian oil reserves in natural gas resources, which could replace the millions of barrels of foreign oil imported daily. “[Natural gas] is cheaper, it’s cleaner, it’s abundant and it’s ours, and we’re fools not to use it,” Pickens said in an interview with CNN.
So if natural gas is the end-all solution to America’s energy crisis, why haven’t we already made the switch?
Because the transition from oil to natural gas is a tedious, pricey process, and not enough has been done to actually get things moving in the right direction.
But if it were up to Pickens, the shift from oil to natural gas fueled transportation would have started years ago, long before it became practically obligatory, which is soon to be the case, if it isn’t already.
Pickens’ current plan proposes first switching trucks to natural gas before focusing on transitioning the entire population to natural gas fueled vehicles.
The lengthy amount of time it will take for the changeover to go into full effect is paired with the high-priced start-up costs of switching to natural gas. According to Pickens’ plan, the first step is fueling trucks with natural gas; but before he can start dumping natural gas into massive trucks, he (or whoever) has to cough up the money to replace gasoline-powered truck engines, which is about $35,000 apiece.
Pickens also said that his own natural gas fueled Honda Civic GX costs thousands more than a gasoline-powered Civic, in addition to the $2,000 to install the natural gas device. Furthermore, the Honda Civic GX is currently the only natural gas vehicle model on the market in the United States.
And yet another obstacle facing the transition is that refueling stations are few and far between, so long distance trips would revolve around mapping out where service stations are along the way. But Pickens is quick to propose a solution, saying that natural gas circulates in underground pipes running down every street, granting access to the natural gas needed to fill service stations.
Needless to say, there’s a lot standing in the way of making a smooth transition from oil to natural gas fueled cars. But while the initial investment costs are staggering, the longterm ROI of making the switch is considerable.
The problem is that America is too impatient and too panicked to see the value in a slow, but pivotal transformation.
Until next time,