Pickens Chooses Phoenix for Natural Gas Fuel Project

Article excerpt

PHOENIX (AP) _ Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens says Phoenix can become "a model clean-air city" if state and local governments and private corporations take him up on an offer to convert their vehicle fleets to natural gas.

Pickens, whose Dallas-based Mesa Inc. is a major producer of natural gas and majority owner of CleanFuels Inc., which designs and develops natural gas engines and fuel systems, is offering to finance the conversion, including installation of natural gas fueling equipment.

He told the Senate Environment Committee Wednesday that he picked Phoenix for the proposed pilot project because of the city's air-pollution problems.

"If you live in Phoenix, or if you're a frequent visitor here like me, you know all too well about the `brown cloud' _ the haze that appears almost daily over the city each winter," Pickens said.

"If we are going to get serious about reducing pollution, we have to get serious about natural gas and natural gas vehicles," he added.

Pickens said 69 percent of the winter haze comes from tailpipe emissions that would be eliminated by converting to natural gas, which he called "the cleanest-burning of all fossil fuels."

He said his company would convert existing gasoline-burning fleets to natural gas with "no up-front fee or out-of-pocket costs."

The savings from switching to natural gas _ which is about one-half as expensive as gasoline _ would be returned to his company to cover his costs and provide a profit, Pickens said.

"It's not because I'm a good Samaritan or some kind of Santa Claus that just arrived in town," Pickens said. "I can do it because I know I have a price differential to work with."

Although his presentation was short on details, Pickens said there will be a "firm proposal" for the state in the near future. …