When we first heard, last year, about the $10 billion investment that T. Boone Pickens (see pix above) is making in the Texas Panhandle to build the largest wind generating station in the United States our response was elemental. Right message. Right messenger. Right scale of investment to foster the clean energy, good jobs economy.
Today in New York, Pickens made another thrust to prod America to take charge of its energy future. He launched what he said was â€œa bold and decisive bipartisan public policy campaign on energy designed to address the single biggest crisis facing AmericaÂ today: our growing and dangerous dependence on foreign oil.â€
Never shy, the famed 80-year-old oilman named his strategy theÂ Pickens Plan, and said the $700 billion a year now flowing out of the United States to foreign oil suppliers, many of them hostile to American interests, represents an â€œemergencyâ€ that needs to be addressed now.
Pickens said he will finance what he called â€œan aggressive multi-media advertising and internetÂ education campaign designed to focus attention on this crisisâ€ and to advance the Pickens Plan, which includes:
â€“ Calling on private industry to fund the installation of thousands of wind turbines in the Americaâ€™s windy zones, generating enough power to provide 20 percent or more of our electricity supply.
â€“ Prompting the private sector to build a modernÂ electric power transmission lines to connecting wind power generating sites with power plants, providing energy to the population centers in theMidwest, South and Western regions of the country.
â€“ Redirecting the natural gas supplies that were fueling power plants serving the large population centers and use it to replace imported gasoline and diesel as a fuel for vehicles.
â€œOur dependence on imported oil is killing our economy. It is the single biggest problem facingÂ AmericaÂ today,â€ Pickens said.Â â€œThis has to stop and it has to stop now before we get to a place where no actions can make a difference. Crisis means danger and opportunity. We know the danger but now we have the opportunity to do something that we should have done 30 to 40 years ago. Sometimes it takes a crisis to awaken us from our slumber but once aroused the American people can accomplish miracles.â€
Pickens said his plan can be executed in five to 10 years and that help from Washington was essential. He challenged the presidential candidates to embrace his plan. Two of the three measures that the Pickens Plan proposes â€” scaling up wind energy to supply 20 percent of more of the nationâ€™s electricity, and modernizing the transmission grid â€” have been proposed and advanced by other prominent organizations, including the Apollo Alliance.
The proposal to replace a portion of the nationâ€™s gasoline supply with natural gas is an intriguing interim step. And his call for presidential candidates and Washington to recognize the urgency of Americaâ€™s energy crisis and to act with steps that make a difference now â€” like quickly scaling up existing renewable energy sources instead of opening the outer continental to new drilling that wonâ€™t produce a new drop of oil for two decades â€” is a part of every reasoned clean energy strategy.
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â€” Keith Schneider