T. Boone Pickens, the multi-billionaire oilman who helped fund horribly immoral ads against Democratic candidates came out with the Pickens Plan last year. After looking it over, it was easy to see he was using his wind energy plan as a front for an alternative goal. After looking into it a little further, it became obvious that Pickens only wanted to look ‘green’ so that he could control a larger portion of the natural gas market, then sell that natural gas as part of a transportation sector makeover, so that he could make billions more. Which he’s free to do, of course, in our messed up semi-market-based economy. I wrote three posts on Pickens before feeling comfortable that he wasn’t likely to succeed in his ridiculous plan any time soon –
What makes Pickens unethical is he tried to sell the American people on something that he wasn’t going to follow up on. He hid his true intentions, as evidenced by an op-ed that the Cons on the Denver Post’s editorial board printed today. “Look to natural gas as solution” is the title. Finally, we get to hear about what T. Boone really wants to do.
That being said, I still disagree with his proposal. Instead of gasoline, he wants vehicles to run off of natural gas. Say what?! Yes, that’s right: natural gas. Because America might have up to 100 years’ worth of natural gas underneath our own soil. Because we need to get off of foreign oil, according to T. Boone. Well, that sounds lovely. But he still largely ignores the climate crisis.
It would take 25-50 years to get natural gas drilling and delivery infrastructure up to anywhere near where today’s oil infrastructure exists. Take population growth and other factors into consideration, and that 100 years’ worth of natural gas will head south quickly. So we’d end up where we are today: a critical resource would be dwindling, foreign entities would control theirs and speculators would jack up the market (unless regulatory reform were enacted). Then what? What’s left when oil and natural gas have run out? Renewables.
But clean energy infrastructure would take another 25-50 years to set up in a national transportation network. So even if there were miraculously more natural gas available than currently wished for, or even if it took a little less time to set that infrastructure up (not likely given today’s crippling deficits), we’d be in worse shape in 75-100 years for having developed natural gas infrastructure instead of clean energy infrastructure. Or we could do it right the first time. In the process, we actually would kill two proverbial birds with one stone. Our transportation sector would be better off (our national security would therefore benefit) and our greenhouse forcing would decrease faster – mitigating the worst effects of catastrophic climate change. Think it through and the choice becomes pretty easy to make. Oh – there is one disadvantage – not going Pickens’ route wouldn’t let him make billions more dollars while we’re stuck with a 20th century transportation system late into the 21st or even into the early 22nd century. That’s what the Pickens’ Plan is all about.