WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) teamed with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens on July 8 to promote legislation aimed at boosting the use of natural gas-fueled vehicles through tax incentives. 

Hatch and Pickens, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), are saying that the bill could help curb pollution while promoting American energy independence, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. 

The bill seeks to extend for 10 years tax credits for buying natural gas-powered vehicles, for installing refueling outlets and for converting conventional cars to natural gas. The legislation would also allow states and local governments to bond to finance natural-gas vehicle projects, and to allow new natural-gas vehicle manufacturing plants to write off 100 percent of the plant construction costs, the Tribune reported. 

During a news conference at the Capitol, Hatch acknowledged that he was "very pleased with the growth and use of hybrid-electric vehicles in this country since the passage of the CLEAR [Clean Efficient Automobiles Resulting from Advanced Car Technologies] Act. 

"But I've been less pleased with the growth of natural gas as a transportation fuel. I believe strongly that we need an extra push to spur on the greater use of natural gas, to get more natural-gas vehicles on our roads," Hatch said. 

Pickens has spent $60 million to promote a shift toward wind, solar and natural gas in the U.S., arguing that continued reliance on Middle Eastern oil poses national security risks. He stresses that America has the cheapest and most plentiful sources of natural gas in the world. 

"The only way you can win this battle is on your own resources," Pickens said. 

Pickens sits on the board of Clean Energy, a leading provider of compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas in North America.

Reid said that natural gas vehicles could save motorists money while cleaning up the environment at the same time. "We must get serious about using cleaner-burning gas and renewable energy, and this legislation is a strong step in the right direction," Reid added.