By now, most of us have seen or heard T. Boone Pickens’ ads touting his absolute, undying love for the country and, in a very practiced boyish, next-door guy kind of way, his heartfelt desire to reduce the amount of oil we import and help some wind power development along the way. I observed him in a panel during the DNC at the Big Tent and came away very unsatisfied with him and his plan. What was labeled as a discussion came closer to being part sales pitch, part lecture. T. Boone must be used to the old way of doing business, because every blogger I spoke with afterward came away as unimpressed as I was. Why no questions from the audience, for example? I think T. Boone figured out that this crowd would pose some very unwelcome questions considering members of the corporate media were also in attendance. I believe those same corporate media folk have been sucked into Pickens’ charisma without taking the time to examine his plan in a critical fashion. It’s rare when journalists actually do their jobs anymore, which is part of the reason the old-time entities are collapsing in on themselves.
The situation isn’t much different in Colorado based on an article in today’s (Sunday’s) Business section of the Denver Post. They carried a piece by Al Lewis of the Dow jones Newswires that did some minor cheer-leading for good ol’ T. Boone but didn’t get into his plan’s details too much. The title: T. Boone taps into forgiveness. The “story”: despite T. Boone’s funding Republican candidates and causes over the years, Democrats came out of Denver absolutely loving the Pickens’ Plan. The evidence: not too much here. Apparently, Al Lewis came away impressed. And I’m sure other folks left the lecture in star-struck awe. But I don’t think they’re in the majority. Al Lewis’ characterization that Democrats just couldn’t get enough is a little too much to swallow, quite frankly.
Al writes that despite Pickens’ massive funding of the folks who brought us the swift-boat liars in 2004, Pickens’ needs Democratic assistance if he is to continue his ways [to pillage the American pocketbook]. So are those vicious ads in the past? Not so fast, my Democratic Drilling fans. T. Boone Pickens has never donated to a Democratic candidate or cause. Not even during this election cycle. So where does Al Lewis get the idea that T. Boone’s support for character assassination is over? I surely don’t know. So far in 2008, Pickens has contributed to Sen. James Inhofe, to name just one entity to benefit from his vast fortune. Sen. Inhofe is the same denier/conspiratorialist that stands by his appraisal that global warming might be the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. Sen. Inhofe has also spent this entire Congressional session blocking all renewable energy tax credits, which Pickens claims are needed as well as anything related to replacing fossil fuels. That’s key to understanding Pickens’ motivation.
There is a message relayed by supporting someone who hates science that much. T. Boone doesn’t have America’s best interest in his plan. T. Boone just wants to make a few more dollars, a few billion more dollars that is. All in the name of patriotism while leveraging the American taxpayers’ contributions to the commons into his bank account. Pickens’ wants tax breaks to develop wind resources from Texas to Canada, he says. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? A developed wind corridor that could supply this country with a large chunk of the expected demand in electricity in the future? What other resource is also located in this corridor? Read on.
Al writes that Pickens has promised that his plan will reduce the $700 billion per year Americans spend buying foreign oil. Where will that money go? To developing renewable energy resources? Of course not. It will be spent instead on buying products T. Boone can sell to us instead. Al also writes that Pickens has quietly bought up a considerable collection of water rights to the Ogalalla aquifer, one of the largest aquifers in the world. Here is where the science that Inhofe scoffs at comes into play. As the climate changes under a global warming regime, the Ogalalla aquifer is going to have an even harder time being replenished than it is now. And it isn’t exactly doing such a hot job now, by the way. So as clean water becomes a scarcer resource in the 21st century, it will become more expensive for most of us to access that water. If Pickens and his buddies own the water rights, guess who makes the money selling that water to a thirstier country? Al didn’t do a very good job of exploring this possibility.
Al also mischaracterized Pickens’ interaction with Carl Pope during the Big Pent panel. He leaves the reader with the impression that Pope heartily supports the Pickens Plan with no other context. Well, I was at the panel and I described already that Carl Pope told Pickens to his face in front of a standing-room only crowd that the Pickens Plan doesn’t go far enough. Pope said that Pickens’ Plan is only a beginning, but that he advocated a much bolder plan, which is true. Pope correctly characterized Pickens’ Plan as not dealing with climate change, which it won’t. Trading one fossil fuel for another during the next 20-30 years will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in an aggressive enough way to appropriately mitigate our current or projected level of climate forcing.
Carl Pope and the Sierra Club have a decent plan that addresses climate change. So does the Apollo Alliance. AL Gore’s is probably the best at doing so. T. Boone Pickens doesn’t. Period. The American people would do well to look beyond the slick sell job Pickens is laying on all of us. All the evidence I’ve seen points to one conclusion: he isn’t promoting this plan out of the goodness of his heart. He is promoting the plan so that he can continue to make more money. I would have more respect for him if he was honest about that. But I cannot, under any circumstances, support his plan. It’s too bad that the corporate media has become enamored with the image of Pickens and not the issues surrounding him. Fortunately, there are other writers (here and here, just to identify two) that aren’t a part of the corporate media.