Texas Oil Man Says We Can Break the Addiction

T. Boone Pickens admits a dangerous oil addiction and lays out steps for full (clean energy) recovery.

T. Boone! At 80, he’s reached mythic status. Here’s how USA Today describes him: a legendary Texas oilman, corporate raider, shareholder-rights crusader, philanthropist and deep-pocketed moneyman for conservative politicians. But yesterday Pickens unveiled what he’s calling the “Pickens Plan” for cutting the USA’s demand for foreign oil by more than a third in less than a decade.

Here’s what he says: “It’s an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our daily lives and ties our hands as a nation and a people. The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone. What’s the good news? The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power.” Pickens is also lauding natural gas as the new big thing for transportation fuels, but he seems to be genuinely more excited about wind potential. 

It’s like the Schwarzenegger-syndrome. Suddenly I love this guy. I’m not sure about the natural gas question, but otherwise, he’s nailing all the energy politics right on the head: we’re addicted; it’s bleeding our economy; it’s hurting American families; drilling is not the answer; the only way to take control of our energy future, build prosperity, and protect consumers is by jump-starting a clean energy economy.

And he’s taking his message to the masses. He has a website, www.pickensplan.com, and he’s launched a media campaign that promises to put his face in front of Americans as much as the mugs of McCain and Obama this fall. He’s even teamed up with the Sierra Club. Most of all, he’s insisting that our energy addiction is the number one issue of our times and that it shouldn’t be a partisan one.

Pickens uses Sweetwater, Texas as a case study for alternative energy production revitalizing rural America. Sweetwater was typical of many small towns in middle-America. With a shortage of good jobs, the youth of Sweetwater were leaving in search of greater opportunities. And the town’s population dropped from 12,000 to under 10,000.

When a large wind power facility was built outside of town, Sweetwater experienced a revival. New economic opportunity brought the town back to life and the population has grown back up to 12,000. “In addition to creating new construction and maintenance jobs,” the Pickens Plan proclaims, “thousands of Americans will be employed to manufacture the turbines and blades. These are high skill jobs that pay on a scale comparable to aerospace jobs.”

“There could be lots of Sweetwaters out there,” Pickens told USA Today.

More from the Pickens Plan website:

America is in a hole and it’s getting deeper every day. We import 70% of our oil at a cost of $700 billion a year – four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.

I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of. But if we create a new renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil.

On January 20, 2009, a new President gets sworn in. If we’re organized, we can convince Congress to make major changes towards cleaner, cheaper and domestic energy resources.

You can watch videos of PIckens saying all this himself, and read more about the Plan here. And we’ll be following the Pickens Plan campaign in the coming months to see if this election season will bring forth a different sort of  changing of the guard: from one Texas oil man to another…

NPR interview with T. Boone here.




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  1. MVP says:

    I had never heard of T. Boone until I saw a tv-spot about him on a news show, last night. I literally thought I had heard wrong when they said he was a *Texas oilman* in search of getting America off foreign oil, and onto American clean-energy investments. Sweet music to my ears. (… And, of course, I immediately thought of Sightline :-)I’d be interested in hearing more about what y’all think of his huge interest in natural gas, though, since you’ve previously seemed to take a rather cautious approach to it, and therefore so do I …Peace,Michelle

  2. James says:

    Lately T Boone Pickens is more known for his huge investment in wind energy, not natural gas. He is building the largest wind farm on the planet in Texas right now. 4,000 MW in nameplate capacity. His company just ordered the first phase of 1,200 MW wind turbines from GE a few weeks ago. I think the entire 4,000 MW will be built by 2012 or something like that.That is a massive amount of energy. I think the entire state of Washington only has about 10,000 MW of capacity.He is also working of a huge water project. He has bought a lot of water rights in Texas and is trying to sell the access to the Dallas region.T Boone Pickens is going to make a lot of money for either himself or whoever is named in his will. He believes that wind energy and water are going to be where the big money is made in the coming years. I believe he is right.

  3. scotty says:

    There is a public Forum for discussions about Pickens plan :http://www.pickensenergyplan.comCheers.

  4. Alena says:

    I’m not versed in this, but I believe T. Boone Pickens is the guy who grew rich be becoming the “hostile takeover king” in Texas. Also, word on the street in Texas is that he’s going to add to his larder of gold by creating a new fortune in wind. Oh, did I mention he’s attempting to sell water from his land in West Texas to parched areas and is undermining water table levels? Somebody can research this and clarify, but, here in Texas, they only thing green about this guy is his pocketbook. He has a right to do what he wants as he seems to be law abiding, but let’s not make him a deity, PLEASE. Such emotional effusion. PLEASE look a little deeper!!

  5. MVP says:

    Thanks for chiming in, Alena.I agree. I think he is someone to keep a cautious eye on; especially since, according to his own website, “Pickens is the largest private holder of permitted groundwater rights in the United States.”

  6. Bill Reiswig says:

    T. Boone is also very well invested in Natural Gas… he is the largest stakeholder in Clean Energy Fuels Corp. which is North America.s largest provider of Natural Gas for transportation use. This company is working on the technology for efficient infrastructure and filling stations for natural gas. Mr. Pickens is trying to kill two birds with one stone: help address our oil crisis AND make billions more.I applaud him for putting a workable idea out into the public arena for discussion… For clarity and workability it beats what both Obama and McCain are doing. However, there are some real drawbacks to his plan as fully implemented… would it be at the expense of promotion of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles? Will it tie our transportation system to just another depleting fossil-fuel? Will using CH4 on a large scale for transportation jack up the price and therefore further escalate prices on fertilizer and home heating? Will it defer real investment in transit, buses, denser communities, bicycling and the like? And although CH4 produces less greenhouse gases than oil, does it really drive down greenhouse gases to do this as much as we could. The pressure is on right now on the automobile and we need the best possible plan… its refreshing to see an oil man pitching wind, but we have to keep in mind that this guy want to make money primarily and if he can help america too, that’s good. His primary goal is to help himself.

  7. Jeorge says:

    “The wind could be different in different locations,” Stengel said. “We looked at our other projects and made what we think is the appropriate decision.”

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