The following discussion of the T. Boone Pickens Energy Plan to alleviate America's dependence on foreign oil raises some interesting and important questions. All is not as simple as it seems. Are we really running out of oil? Is it wise to switch to burning natural gas in vehicles instead of gasoline? Is it wise, or even possible to built thousands of wind turbines and power lines? This is a long read, but worthwhile for those seeking a greater understanding of the issues.
The Pickens Plan: Questions Unanswered
by Reece A. Epstein and David A. Ridenour
On July 7, 2008, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens introduced the “Pickens Plan,” an ambitious proposal to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by one-third over the next ten years.1
The cornerstone of the Pickens Plan is replacing the natural gas now used to generate electricity with wind power, and then using the saved natural gas to power vehicles that presently run on gasoline.2
It’s a bold plan from a bold man.
Pickens should be credited for understanding that America has an urgent need to secure its energy independence. His website says: “As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we will send $700 billion out of the country this year alone – that’s four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.”3
While Capitol Hill offers partisan bickering, Pickens appears to be offering a solution. And, as Pickens is prepared to spend $58 million to promote his plan,4 his advocacy could have an enormous impact on America’s energy policy for decades to come.
But while Pickens appears confident, his claims raise questions. Has oil production finally and irrevocably peaked, as Pickens claims? Why use wind power instead of nuclear power? Are natural gas-powered vehicles a viable alternative to gasoline-powered cars, and would switching to them improve America’s security? What does Pickens believe the federal government should do to make his plan a reality? Might he or the firms he owns benefit financially from such federal aid?