T. Boone Pickens sees "overwhelming" federal approval, and soon, of the bill he backs promoting natural gas development.
Expecting the price of oil to reach $125 a barrel before the year's out, the BP Capital Management chief executive told CNBC, "I would say the odds are much in favor that [Pres. Obama will] sign it. How could he not sign it? [Gas is] America’s resource. It’s cheaper, it's abundant, it’s cleaner. Yeah, he’ll sign it."
Pickens has backed this bill for years. The latest version was introduced by Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., in the 112th Congress last week. This time it has 154 co-sponsors.
That didn't surprise Pickens.
"If you look at the fourth quarter, demand (for oil) is projected to be 90 million barrels a day and I don’t think the world can produce that," Pickens said. "So if you can’t produce that, you’re gonna run the price up and kill the demand."
The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow credits to promote investment in natural gas and in producing these vehicles, among other incentives.
"For 40 years this country has not had an energy plan. We’re the only country in the world that does not have an energy plan," he said. "You almost have to laugh at yourself 'cause you look so stupid." The bill, he said, is a first step.
He downplayed recent concerns in Pennsylvania about groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in drilling for natural gas. Texas and Oklahoma have "fracked over 800,000 wells. Do you see anybody complaining down there?" he asked.
A previous version of this story stated that the bill contained a mandate for selling a minimum percentage of vehicles powered by natural gas. The current version of the bill contains no mandate.