Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Pickens suggests domestic natural gas as an alternative to OPEC oil

Domestic energy advocate T. Boone Pickens spoke Monday evening to an audience in The Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium about his plan to end America’s dependence on OPEC oil.

Before his speech, Pickens said America’s growing rate of consumption of OPEC oil threatens national security.

“We have a security issue for our country,” he said. “We’re actually buying from the enemy. We’re funding both sides of the war.”

Pickens said America consumes 21 million of the 86 million barrels of oil produced daily.

“We’re using 25 percent of all the oil produced in the world every day with only 4 percent of the population, and that is not sustainable,” he said.

Forty percent of the imported oil, which amounts to five million barrels of oil a day, comes from nations in the Middle East that the State Department recommends United States citizens do not visit, he said.

“The Taliban is getting part of what we spend in the Middle East,” he said. “I want to cut off the five million barrels we get from OPEC.”

To stem the purchase of OPEC oil, Pickens said heavy-duty transport units, especially 18-wheelers, should cease to use diesel fuel derived from OPEC and instead begin to use domestic sources of natural gas.

“America has the largest natural gas reserves in the world,” he said. “We take the heavy duty 18-wheelers — there are eight million of them — and we incentivize those owners as they replace their diesels. They replace them with natural gas and they get a $65,000 tax rebate.”

During his speech at The Zone, Pickens said every presidential administration since Richard Nixon has failed to follow through on their pledges to end American consumption of foreign energy.

He said the nation is in need of a viable energy plan.

“A fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan,” he said. “The United States, for 40 years, [has been] without an energy plan….If we go forward 10 years — and 10 years goes by pretty fast — we will be importing 75 percent of our oil and paying $300 [per barrel of oil],” he said.

Pickens said natural gas reserves under American soil can supply the nation with roughly 200 years of fuel.

“We now have more natural gas than Russia and Iran,” he said. “We’ve got to have the resources that will replace the five million barrels from OPEC.”

Chris Ellam, a freshman majoring in chemical engineering who attended the speech, said he supports Pickens’ platform.

“We have the natural gas here,” he said. “We just have to get it … He could have explained his idea of how to pay for it better.”

Charles Pontaze, an attendant of the speech and an investor in energy stocks, said he supports the use of natural gas as an alternative to gasoline or diesel fuel.

“I’m willing to bet my money on natural gas,” he said. “It’s so abundant.”

Mark McConville, who also attended the speech, said he has converted his business vans to run off of natural gas. His business, Airport Express, provides a shuttle service at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“It was just something I believe in,” he said. “We have to get away from foreign oil … We can transition to [natural gas] easily….It’s not reinventing the wheel.”

Marlena McConville, his daughter and a freshman majoring in food and nutrition, said she traveled with her family during the summer along Route 66 from Santa Monica, California to Chicago, Illinois in her dad’s 1966 Pontiac GTO that used natural gas for fuel.

“The trip took little over a week,” she said.

She said the use of natural gas as a fuel for her dad’s business has been a wise investment.

“It’s saved them money overall because it’s cheaper than regular gas,” she said.

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