Reid pushes T. Boone Pickens gas plan in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is pushing legislation that provides billons of dollars in tax credits to boost deployment of natural-gas-powered vehicles, a plan championed by billionaire energy magnate T. Boone Pickens but opposed by several conservative groups.

Reid and Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced the plan that expands credits for purchasing natural-gas cars and trucks, provides credits for producing the vehicles and extends credits for natural-gas fueling infrastructure, among other provisions.

“We cannot afford to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year to buy oil from foreign countries, many of which are unfriendly to the United States. This bill will create over one million jobs by accelerating the development of clean alternative vehicles and fuels here at home, and make our nation more secure,” Reid said in a statement.

The cost of the bill would be offset by a new user fee — which runs through 2021 — on the sale of liquefied and compressed natural gas that’s used as vehicle fuel.

Burr said that he hopes for floor action soon and suggested that the measure could move as an amendment to an appropriations bill.

“My hope is that we can get some action on it before the end of this year,” Burr told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday. “I think we would look for any vehicle that’s going to cross the goal line and most of those are going to be appropriations vehicles.”

But members of Burr’s caucus can likely expect pushback from groups including the Heritage Foundation that have waged a months-long campaign against companion House legislation, calling it unwarranted federal intervention into energy markets.

Nearly 20 Republicans have removed their name from the House measure, but it retains substantial support with a bipartisan group of 181 co-sponsors.

It’s a battle that has pitted Pickens against the billionaire Koch Brothers.

The legislation, the Senate backers said, would put an estimated 700,000 natural-gas-powered vehicles on U.S. roads over a decade and displace more than 20 billion gallons of fuel.

This article was first published by The Hill.

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