Today I listened to a teleconference on the National Clean Energy Project. On the call were T. Boone Pickens; Harry Reid, Senate majority leader; Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; and John Podesta, president of Center for American Progress Action Funds. The dignitaries talked about several aspects of the Obama administration’s energy plan. I was most interested in the part that concerned natural gas, which is being cast as the bridge to the future. By switching large trucks from diesel to natural gas, then moving to fleets, America’s oil imports could be cut 30% to 50% within 10 years, said Pickens. The U.S. is absolutely overwhelmed with natural gas, thanks to the rapid development of shale-gas plays during the past decade. “We import 70% of the oil we use, but 98% of our natural gas comes from North America,” he said. “We’re crazy if we don’t move in and take this wonderful opportunity for the country to use the natural gas for transportation fuel.” His plan calls for switching 380,000 of the 6.5 million 18-wheelers in the U.S. from diesel to natural gas. The cost of a natural-gas engine is $75,000 to $85,000 more than that of a diesel engine, so initially truckers will need incentives to make the change. The advantages are clear, however: the fuel is cheaper and cleaner than diesel, and it’s all domestic. Once the model is established, it can be scaled up and incentives won’t be needed, said Pickens. “The only way that we can solve the problem of imported oil is that we have to use a resource in America.” --Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor Contact me at