Support for Gas Industry Gaining Momentum

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"Legislation set to be tabled in Congress on April 6 should provide a boost to the gas industry if it passes the House and Senate."

Amidst increasing oil prices and mounting uncertainties over the future of nuclear power, support for gas is gaining momentum amongst U.S. policy-makers. Legislation set to be tabled in Congress on April 6, a revised version of the failed 2008 New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NATGAS) bill, should provide a boost to the gas industry if it passes the House and Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Congressman John Larson and heavily lobbied for by BP Capital Management chief T. Boone Pickens, is expected to include billions of dollars in subsidies and grants for natural gas infrastructure and refueling facilities, as well as tax credits to help offset the steep costs of converting vehicles to run on natural gas. The revised NATGAS bill is thought to have more bipartisan backing this time because of its narrower focus avoiding previous climate change-related sticking points, and the prospect of job creation for the retrofitting of private and commercial fleets.

There is also now wider public support for natural gas, with Nikos Tsafos, senior analyst at PFC Energy in Washington noting that "gas is domestically produced and currently one-fourth the price of oil: it's a no-brainer that people will look for ways to push out oil and use more gas."

The introduction of the bill this Wednesday also comes on the heels of a speech from President Obama last week outlining the government's long-term energy plans. In his address, Obama targeted a one-third reduction in foreign oil imports for the US by 2020, roughly 3.6 million barrels per day at current levels of consumption. Obama also announced an initiative to ensure that all new vehicles used by government agencies were powered by alternative fuel by 2015, which includes natural gas.

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