Representative John Sullivan (R-OK) lost a Republican primary last night to Jim Bridenstine, who is likely to win Sullivan’s seat in November. Sullivan was the main sponsor of the T. Boone Pickens NAT-GAS Act, which would have funneled money into subsidies for building out infrastructure for natural gas vehicles, specifically fueling stations throughout the country and providing tax credits for large truck fleets that converted to natural gas. While the past few years have seen significant anti-incumbent sentiments, one notable difference between Sullivan and Bridenstine was their stance on subsidizing natural gas:
On only one issue, energy policy, did Sullivan and Bridenstine substantially disagree. Sullivan touted his bill to promote natural gas vehicle fuels, while Bridenstine supports an alternative proposal.
“Let’s get cars, trucks and buses running on natural gas,” Sullivan said. “We have an abundance of it here in the United States. It’s cheap and abundant and … it also addresses a national security issue by lessening our dependence on foreign oil.”
Bridenstine calls Sullivan’s NatGas Act a “big-government” boondoggle because it creates a short-term subsidy to convert vehicles to natural gas.
“We ought not let Washington, D.C., control free markets with tax subsidies,” he said.
Bridenstine said he supports the Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act, which is backed by Oklahoma’s U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn. That measure is intended to more directly stimulate oil and gas exploration in the United States.
Neither bill, as it turns out, is expected to win approval in Congress.
Now, this was only one “town-hall” type meeting, but perhaps voters in Oklahoma are tired of crony capitalism. It will certainly make the legislation harder to pass, as Sullivan was the primary sponsor, and was on the Energy & Commerce committee.