WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday made the strongest pitch of his presidency for natural gas, calling for the nation's vast reserves to be put to more use in vehicles, homes and factories.
Speaking in Las Vegas, the president said the United States was the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.”
“We've got to take advantage of this incredible natural resource,” he said.
“Think about an America where more cars and trucks are running on domestic natural gas than on foreign oil. Think about an America where our companies are leading the world in developing natural gas technology and creating a generation of new energy jobs; where our natural gas resources are helping make our manufacturers more competitive for decades. We can do this.”
Obama said the federal government would help local governments upgrade to fleets of natural gas vehicles, and he called for tax incentives for companies that buy natural gas trucks.
Also, the president said the government would continue working with the private sector to develop natural gas corridors in which refueling stations would be established between designated cities. The president made his comments at a UPS facility that uses natural gas vehicles.
The president did not specifically endorse legislation sponsored by some Oklahoma lawmakers and backed by energy investor T. Boone Pickens to spur more production of natural gas vehicles.
Pickens, who noted that Obama is also calling for more wind and solar power, which were part of the Pickens Plan rolled out in 2008, said Thursday, “While we can take a victory lap, the work is not done.
“It's great to see the president engaging in important and meaningful dialogue on this subject. But proposals are not enacted policies. The pressure needs to remain on. We can't let the special interests do what they've done for 40 years, and that's block a long-term energy plan for America.”