Joe Nocera in the NYTimes today argues for Congress to pass the “Boone Pickens Bill,” which provides incentives for increasing use of natural gas by trucks and other large vehicles in particular. Having given up on his huge wind-farm, Pickens now is dedicating his efforts to gas, and damn the torpedoes.

The numbers cited are revealing:

Of the 20 million barrels of oil we use each day, 70 percent goes for transportation fuel. The 8 million heavy-duty trucks on the road today account for 23 percent of that fuel.

So, if we convert half of these truck-miles to train miles, we should be able to eliminate use of about 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. More trains = good.

Of the remaining 11 million barrels per day used for transportation, I’d say it should be darn easy to cut that in half in two ways: one, by reducing trips (easily done, if one thinksĀ  about it), and two, by making available more public transportation. More trains and buses = even better.

There are multiple benefits to this thinking. By not fostering use of natural gas (sorry, Boone), that will reduce hydrofracking and accompanying pollution of water and air from that practice. Also, the quality of life would be enhanced by reducing traffic jams. A traffic jam is a traffic jam, no matter how you power it. Also, we’d need fewer roads. There’d be more jobs for displaced truckers to work on the railroads or running public transportation systems.

Sounds so good, Boone should buy me a drink.