Today I am writing about a proposal by T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil billionaire (as everyone likes to call him) to deal with the United States' large and growing dependence on imported oil for much of its energy. I suggest you first go to that Web site and play the video there, read the text explanation of "the Pickens Plan". and then come back here for a response focused on the public good.
Reading carefully what is being presented, it is clear that Pickens intends to make money with this. Among other facts, he is building one of the largest wind farms in the world, just north of Sweetwater, Texas.
There should be no objection to him making some money while doing the good work of reducing our imports. However, it raises two questions, due to conflicts of interest: 1) why does his plan not mention other renewable energy sources that are also plentiful in the United States, and 2) to what degree does he expect government to subsidize wind power expansion, and would he or his company benefit by such a government shift to support of wind power? If so, he is asking us to join his plan in order to further his interests, which may not always be in the best interests of the whole country.
I do believe that a core point of this video is accurate: our economy is greatly suffering due to the hidden causes of energy costs and energy use inefficiencies (which Europe and some countries in South America and Asia have been gradually improving on while we do nothing).
We were a much stronger, dominant economy from 1945 through the 1970s, when US oil production was in its heyday. The underlying economics of our energy supply is a telling part of the current weakness of the dollar and the US economy.
If this shift in energy sources is done under government control, without unduly benefitting the rich and their corporations, it is an excellent idea, although not unique to Pickens. More serious, he did not get to promoting of photovoltaic energy, let alone geothermal and wave/current energy, all of which are renewable, and are plentiful or moderately available in various areas of the United States.
Just from a useability aspect, the production quality and the balanced detail level and clear graphics used in the video are exemplary. It could be a model for those who are more expert in the field than Pickens and his team, and who want to produce comprehensive videos as a tool for informing and persuading the public of their ideas; the video seems to strike a balance between being understandable by anyone, and yet providing some limited specifics for those with modest background in the topic.
Dealing with the main points of the Pickens Plan: let's accept and support some of the good ideas in this plan, but make sure the other good ideas that will benefit the USA and the planet get added in before we get fully behind such a plan.
From the Pickens Web site:
"America is addicted to foreign oil.
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 addiction has worsened for decades and now it's reached a point of crisis. In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil.
Today it's nearly 70% and growing.
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 dollars out of the country this year alone – that's four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.
Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion – it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind."