As we all know a lot of political wrangling takes place on Capitol Hill, but with each passing week it's more and more obvious that this Congress is serious about doing something to end our addiction to foreign oil. I say this because on Tuesday the House took an important step towards this goal when it passed Congressman John Sullivan's bill to reauthorize the Natural Gas Vehicle Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment program for the next five years.
Part of the reason H.R. 1622 enjoyed such smooth sailing is that Congressman Sullivan cut to the chase. The bill provides $30 million for natural gas vehicle research each year from 2010 to 2014 and directs the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to focus this research on commercial vehicles. Why? It's simple. Natural gas can power a diesel truck. It burns cleaner than gasoline. And it produces less greenhouse gases than either diesel or gasoline.
But what matters most about H.R. 1622 is that it didn't just pass. It passed overwhelmingly: 393-35. And you've got to believe that one of the key reasons for this is because 97 percent of the natural gas we use in the U.S. is produced right here in North America. That point hits home with a lot of Americans, including the bill's sponsor, John Sullivan. Here's what he said:
In 2008 alone, natural gas vehicles displaced over 300 million gallons of petroleum in the United States. I believe that natural gas must continue to play an important role in decreasing our dependence on foreign sources of oil and leading America to greater energy security. Natural gas is not just American-made energy. It's Oklahoma-made energy. My legislation undoubtedly helps our state as we are one of the top natural gas producers in the nation, typically accounting for almost one-tenth of the total U.S. production.
I've spent my entire career in the energy industry, and I can tell you that our country's natural gas reserves are not just in traditional energy states such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Alaska but spread out from coast to coast. You'd be surprised to learn what sort of production comes out of Kansas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Alabama.
Maybe that's why H.R. 1622 passed by such a large margin. A lopsided vote like 393-35 is a huge victory, and it's further evidence of the fact that members of Congress recognize the tremendous benefits of natural gas: it's clean, it's abundant, and, most importantly, it's American.
We're making great progress towards getting America to end its addiction to foreign oil. Momentum is on our side, but critical steps still remain, and by that I mean getting the NAT GAS Act passed in the House (H.R. 1835) and the Senate (S. 1408) and then signed into law by President Obama this year. If you have any doubts about why these two pieces of legislation are so critical, I suggest you tune into Charlie Gibson's special on ABC tonight. The program's name says it all: "Over a Barrel: The Truth About Oil."
Once you see how deep a hole we've dug for ourselves by importing two-thirds of our oil and then you see all the ways OPEC and the other oil producers don't want us to change our ways, all I ask is that email your congressman and your senator as quickly as possible and urge them to support the NAT GAS Act.
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