Pickens’ Self-Serving Energy Plan

What are we to make of the Pickens Plan? This week, long-time oil investor and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens (photo) put forth a proposal to greatly reduce American dependence on foreign oil. At the heart of the plan is a call for large-scale expansion of wind energy to allow the country’s natural gas now being used for electricity generation to serve instead as a cleaner fuel for cars, trucks and buses.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Pickens says: “I believe this plan will be the perfect bridge to the future, affording us the time to develop new technologies and a new perspective on our energy use.” While the call for a massive commitment to wind energy is generating excitement among some environmentalists, the idea of devoting enormous resources to natural-gas-powered vehicles seems a lot more dubious.

Pickens, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $3 billion, has the resources to drown out the naysayers. He has vowed to spend some $58 million to promote the plan.

But is he really advocating an idea–or simply advancing his own interests? Pickens controls Mesa Energy, which plans to spend up to $10 billion building a gargantuan wind farm in rural Texas whose value would be greatly enhanced amid the national effort that 80-year-old Pickens is proposing. His BP Capital hedge fund is heavily invested in natural gas as well as oil.

It’s amazing how many of the hundreds of news articles written about the proposal in the past two days have failed to mention Pickens’ vested interests, while the Associated Press quoted him as making the following preposterous statement about his plan: “I don’t have any profit motive in this. I’m doing it for America.” Back in April he was more candid when speaking to the Guardian about his wind farm investment: “Don’t get the idea that I’ve turned green. My business is making money, and I think this is going to make a lot of money.”

We should also be wary of Pickens because of his other bold initiative: buying up water rights. Just last month, those exploits were the focus of a story in Business Week whose cover (left) depicted him as the water equivalent of the ruthless oil tycoon of the movie There Will Be Blood. It will be a sad state of affairs if we let wheeler-dealers such as Pickens set the agenda for the future of our resources. Sustainability cannot be based on cornering the market.

18 thoughts on “Pickens’ Self-Serving Energy Plan”

  1. He’s an American, what American is not interested in making money? I am! I can’t see how he’s scamming anyone. Would you rather see China build it and profit from it along with continue to see these other countries benefit our $700B? Seems like all we’re doing is giving other countries our money and control of our businesses (Budweiser). If Mr. Picken’s plan keeps U.S. money in the U.S., he’s not scamming anyone, and the outcome of the plan will reduce our dependency on foreign oil along with putting some cleaner cars in the U.S., I’m behind it 100%. If it creates more jobs too, WONDERFUL!!! It’s better than no solution and we need to do something drastic! Too bad you can’t please everyone!

  2. I think someone is missing the point. Our country needs this wind energy! Who cares if someone makes money on it, because in the end we will all benefit from this plan. No one else has a plan worth listening to, so back off of pickens. Mr Pickens I am 100% on board with your energy plan. I want my children to have a chance in this world and they way were headed it doesn’t look good!

    Why is it with are country we always have to study something for 5 years and spend billions of tax dollars to conclude what T Boone is saying?

  3. There is no doubt that Mr. Pickens does his business in a cutthroat way and thinks the end justifies the means. I do question the outcome of his water business as it will affect Texas, but as far as the wind energy goes, I don’t have a problem with that. So what if he makes money on that. Remember, he has to pay taxes on that money or he has to invest in something else to offset the taxes, in which case the US will probably benefit one way or the other. His premise is good..to make us less dependent on oil and to put that money into this country instead of overseas. I just hope that we can afford the energy he develops from his wind power and it doesn’t raise our utility rates extensively in order to fill his pockets. We are in crisis in this country as far as energy goes and any fix that takes less than 10 years has to be looked at.

  4. i agree w/ jack lohman , what are our alternatives?? dont all people make money off of endevors or they do them out of goodness of heart ?? after covering costs this will make money dont the electric co. now ??

  5. Sad to read these comments – alot of greed in this country! Our parents “greatest generation” built this country on hard work, sweat and pride. Money was not their first and foremost thought. We all managed to survive on what dad made while mom stayed at home taking care of us. Greed has gotten the best of this country and when the bottom line is all that matters to Americans – we die a slow death. As far as him paying taxes………….please. I’m sure I pay more taxes than him and make annually what he probably makes in 1 hour!

    I would just like to see someone produce for the betterment of this country. I have no problem someone making money but I’d like to see the pride that goes along with it and the fact they are doing it for a meaningful purpose and not just lining their pockets.

    Pickens is not a very nice person. Read up folks on his background.

  6. My intention with the critical post on Pickens was to provoke discussion on his plan, and I’m pleased to see this happening. In case it was unclear in the post, I am by no means an opponent of wind power (mass investment in natural-gas vehicles is another matter) and I don’t expect the profit motive to be absent from the development of renewable energy.

    I just can’t accept the idea that our energy future has to be controlled by ruthless, big-money operators like Pickens. Renewable energy technology is ideally suited for small and medium operations that will not put us at the mercy of new wind and solar robber barons.

  7. The article above mainly attacks Pickens on the grounds he is a capitalist.

    That – alone – is not anything important. (Unless you despise capitalism for its sake alone.)

    What is important is – is his plan

    Criticism of the ethicalness and the soundness of his plan 0 properly footnoted – would be something to consider.

    OR “….ROBBER BARONS” well – right now, we are funding terrorists with portions of that 700 billion.

  8. I’m pro wind. this is america and if it is a sound idea and plan, it will need capital to be built. besides the only way the beltway will lead the way is if big oil pushes for it. i would rather my money stay here than go over seas. let pickens do his thing, if he makes money helping us americans god bless him. somebody has to stand up and take the bull by the horns.

  9. Phil….

    Respectfully, what makes massive energy initiatives like solar and wind projects any different than the railroad projects of yesteryear? Clearly, it takes very large amounts of capital to tackle projects of this magnitude. And as a stockholder in a publicly traded company vested in alternative energy development, you have the opportunity to participate in the risk and share the rewards.

    Mr. Picken’s goal is profit, pure and simple. Personally, I applaud him for his visionary efforts because this is a “Wind Wind” situation. He and his investors take the risk and reap the reward, but in this case, humanity and the entire planet benefit whether you invest or not. Maybe he’ll eye the opportunity to start building a high speed magnetic levitation train system next and power it with energy from his wind farms. We’d all breath easier, wouldn’t you agree?

    In closing, I sincerely appreciate your efforts to start the discussion moving. Thank you for providing all of us a forum for discussion.

  10. Randy: I’m not sure I would cite the railroads as a model. In the 19th Century that industry–out of which came many of the most notorious robber barons–was marked by financial scandals, lavish government subsidies, exploitation of immigrant labor, violation of the rights of native people, etc. etc. I trust we don’t want to see such abuses repeated in the development of renewable energy.

  11. Good Grief! Since when is making money a crime in America? WHEN DRUG COMPANIES CHARGE SICK PEOPLE EXORBITANT FEES FOR PRESCRIPTIONS……………..WHEN OIL PEOPLE MANIPULATE THE MARKET……….. but NOT when a man who KNOWS HOW TO GET THINGS DONE STEPS UP TO THE PLATE AND STARTS SAVING OUR COUNTRY FROM FINANCIAL RUIN! Would you prefer Billy Graham to run this program to be able to trust it? Ghandi? The Lord’s return? No. It will take a “ruthless”corporate raiding, money making genious! He’s not using us……..we are using him!!!!!! It will save us money in the long run and make him another billion. God Bless You Mr. Pickens! You can put a windmill right next to my house. I’ve seen them working in Europe. As for the comment about Mr. Pickens manipulating the Bush campaign…….hey, no one is perfect. Let’s hope he manipulates this campaign and brings in a dark horse to save the day for this country and for we independent voters (too embarrassed to be called Republican anymore). If we don’t all UNITE in this venture, China will provide a real whooping for our children one day. Let’s unite behind this essential that has proved itself many times over in a Scandinavia.

  12. “ruthless, big-money operators”

    Phil and others,

    We cannot continue giving our money to other countries, making them rich. If Pickens is a “ruthless, big-money operator ” what do you call the Middle East.

    People need to make money. I know I need it! If anyone is going to get rich why shouldn’t it be an American?

    I have also heard complaints about the Picken’s Plan will become an energy monopoly. Again, what do you call the Middle East? Even if this were true, wouldn’t you agree that there are ways to resolve that issue after we FREE from foreign oil?

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