T. Boone Pickens—billionaire Texas energy investor—drives a Honda Civic GX that runs on natural gas. The cost? Less than $1 per gallon, compared to the same volume cost as gasoline, which has reached $4 and averages at least double the cost of its natural gas equivalent.
Pickens spoke at TED2012 in Long Beach, California. He urged Americans to consider natural gas a building block for the ultimate endgame: ending OPEC import dependency. In an interview, Pickens asserted that natural gas is “cheaper, it’s cleaner, it’s abundant and it’s ours, and we’re fools not to use it.”
Pickens claimed that the U.S. possesses enough domestic resources to replace 5M barrels of daily OPEC imports. That equates to a quarter of America’s daily oil intake. Pickens also said that U.S. natural gas reserves equal three times the oil reserves possessed by Saudi Arabia.
The Natural Gas Act, a bill with some bipartisan sponsorship, would provide tax credits for companies replacing diesel-fuel burning truck engines with natural gas-powered engines. Users of natural gas as transportation fuel would incur fees that would compensate lost revenue.
The notion of natural gas as transportation fuel is not without its complications, however. Extracting natural gas can be harmful the environment. Hydraulic fracturing, or “Fracking,” is a process involving a combination of toxic chemicals that are inserted in the ground, forcing natural gas to the surface from reservoirs. The process has resulted in environmental damage and health and safety concerns, and is banned in some countries
Fracking chemicals can migrate into adjacent groundwater aquifers. The hydraulic fracturing operation may affect geology and allow dangerous hydrocarbons such as methane and benzene to escape into the environment. In addition to the real potential for environmental harm, natural gas derived from fracking is not renewable.
Seeds of Change for Energy
There is a frack-free alternative: hemp-derived methanol. Cellulose is a core component of combustible fuel—hemp is 77% cellulose. Methanol derived from hemp is clean and renewable. Large amounts of dangerous chemicals are not needed to process hemp into a viable fuel.
If 6% of U.S. farmland were converted to hemp cultivation, dependency on foreign oil, fossil fuels, and natural gas would end. Industrial hemp methanol presents an inexpensive, healthy alternative to hydrocarbon fuels whose use can extend to commercial usage in markets like the kitchen stove. AgriMed supports the conversion of a petroleum-dependent economy to one improved by hemp-derived methanol.