T. Boone Pickens, a Texas oilman who has become a wind power advocate, launched his energy plan Tuesday with a media campaign and a Website filled with social networking tools to promote his approach to reducing the United States’ reliance on foreign oil.
Pickens, an 80-year-old head of the hedge fund BP Capital in Dallas, is bent on using some of his $4 billion fortune to extol the virtues of renewable energy and natural gas. In a lengthy USA Today story Tuesday, Pickens said neither Republican presidential candidate John McCain nor Democratic candidate Barack Obama has paid enough attention to solving the country’s energy problems. So he will make them.
Pickens will promote his plan in TV ads, while his Website, Pickens Plan, offers Facebook and MySpace widgets to help distribute his views.
Pickens has even lined up the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, as an ally.
“Try everything. Nuclear. Biomass. Coal. Solar. You name it. I support them all,” said Pickens to USA Today.
Pickens isn’t new to the art of stirring up controversy. During the last presidential election, he offered $1 million to anyone who could prove that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was wrong in its questioning of Democratic nominee John Kerry’s military service and whether he deserved the medals he earned.
This time, Pickens is seeking bi-partisan support to come up with economic incentives to promote renewable energy and reduce importing foreign oil.
But more specifically, he said he would like to see more wind farms and automobiles powered by natural gas. According to Pickens, a combination of using natural gas for fuel and building enough wind farms to feed 20 percent of the country’s energy needs could reduce the United States’ reliance on foreign oil by a third in 10 years.
By the way, he claims to be building the world’s largest wind farm and is an investor in natural gas. Pickens has spent $2 billion so far on his 4-gigawatt wind project, located in the Texas Panhandle. He plans to spend $10 billion more, including building transmission lines, on the project. The wind farm is expected to begin producing electricity in 2011.
Pickens reasons that an increase in wind energy would free up the need to use natural gas to run power plants. The natural gas can then be turned into fuel for cars, replacing the more expensive gasoline.
He is predicting a rollout of natural gas stations along highways and in large cities, and is calling for government incentives to build those stations and cars that use natural gas.
There are already trucks and buses that run on natural gas, but he wants consumer cars to join the fleet. His Website features the Honda Civic GX, which is the only mass-market car available in the country. There are about 1,300 natural gas stations in the United States, many of them in California.