NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 26, 2009

Washington has been in vigorous discussions about alternative fuels (solar, wind, geo-thermal and bio-methane) and their role in our nation's energy portfolio.  But there is another domestic fuel that is part of the alternative fuel mix that has not been as widely discussed -- propane, says T. Boone Pickens, Texas oilman and creator of the Pickens Plan.

Propane is largely produced as a byproduct of natural gas, and over 97 percent of the propane used in America is produced on American soil.  And since propane is a portable fuel, it can help replace gasoline in some of the worst polluting engines -- the small engines used for garden equipment, lawnmowers and generators, says Pickens:

  • These small gasoline-powered engines release more harmful air emissions per hour of use than the typical automobile; some cities restrict their use during smog alerts.
  • New propane-powered alternatives are coming to market that will meet federal air-quality standards, permitting their continued use even during periods of heavy smog.
  • Propane is also an excellent replacement for home heating oil; price spikes during the past few winters have caused Northeast homeowners to become "household hedge fund managers" making an annual bet on what the price of heating oil will be.
  • Moreover, propane produces 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than home heating oil and no particulate emissions, making the argument for switching even stronger.

All of that is why propane fits into the Pickens Plan so well.  The increased use of this clean, domestic fuel is helping us make a dent in our dependence on foreign oil, says Pickens.

We are still importing more than two-thirds of the oil we use.  In May, that cost approximately $21.6 billion. Increasing our use of propane and natural gas as fuel means less dependence on foreign oil, says Pickens.

Source: T. Boone Pickens, "Propane and the Pickens Plan," Huffington Post, June 23, 2009.

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