T. Boone Pickens seeks stimulus funds to repower America’s trucks

| 2/6/2009

Pushing forward with his plan to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is vying for stimulus money to help diesel-dependent truckers convert over to natural gas-powered engines.

Pickens is pushing for a $28 billion pilot program that would convert 350,000 heavy-duty trucks over to running on liquefied natural gas, or LNG. He said this can be achieved through the use of incentives such as federal tax credits or grants.

On Friday, Feb. 6, the economic stimulus plan was being debated in the U.S. Senate.

According to Pickens, converting these trucks over to LNG “would cut our foreign oil dependence by over 5 percent.”

“We want the Senate to allow trucking companies – large and small truckers who operate 18-wheelers – to get tax breaks for buying trucks that run on natural gas,” Pickens said in a recent Pickens Plan e-mail.

Some short-haul and regional truckers are already receiving $32,000 federal grants for purchasing trucks that run on LNG.

One company, Total Transportation Services Inc. in Rancho Dominguez, CA, has purchased eight Kenworth T800 trucks with LNG-powered engines.

Pickens is also pushing to build out the national infrastructure to build more LNG fueling sites so that long-haul truckers can benefit the same as short-haul operations.

The pilot program would be beneficial because, besides helping truckers comply with stringent emissions standards and decreasing their dependence on oil, the plan would also create more than 450,000 jobs.

“It will add jobs as the heavy truck manufacturers hire (or retain) workers to build the new natural gas engines,” according to the Pickens Plan e-mail.

Check out Land Line Magazine’s March/April issue to find out more about LNG and the push to switch to the alternative fuel source to power heavy trucks.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer