The Pickens Plan

Jul 8, 2008 5:44pm

Nobody can accuse T. Boone Pickens of being some wild-eyed environmentalist.  He calls himself "a Texas oil man," the chair of a private equity fund called BP Capital Management.  He puts his net worth at $4 billion, and he’s often at the top of various lists of investment gurus. But he’s been all over the media — his name was the ninth-most-searched term on Google — because of this: He’s out to get America free of imported oil, he says, and he wants to do it with the things environmentalists dream about — wind turbines for electricity, which would free up natural gas to run cars and trucks.  He’d throw in nuclear power too, but only in the long term. "I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of," he says on the website.  "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." He has some unlikely allies — for instance, Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club.  "I certainly never expected to be inspecting wind operations with Pickens or to be hearing his scorn for the current political notion that we can somehow drill our way out of the oil-price crisis," writes Pope on his blog. "He’s certainly likely to draw an audience that a green wind-power advocate from the Sierra Club could never command." Pickens gives a simple-looking chalk-talk in a video on the Pickens Plan website, but there’s nothing simple going on here.  Pickens subscribes to the idea of "peak oil," the notion that our ability to find enough will dwindle.  He says the peak passed in 2005. "What a dramatic wake-up moment when a Texas tycoon tells us we have to cut our addiction to oil," says Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund.  "It’s really time for America to act."

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