Pickens is known for building wealth through oil and hardball business tactics, but of late has been talking up the need to use wind power and natural gas for a self-reliant American energy future.
I blogged here at sustainablog recently about my early impressions of the man’s switcharoo – T. Boone Pickens: Oil Dependence ‘Is One Emergency We Can’t Drill Our Way Out Of’ – and his unlikely role in potentially being a prominent, “We need to wean off of petroleum” leader against the slow-to-move heads of this nation.
Surely no billionaire can become one without keeping $$$ at the forefront of the mind at all times. I have never proclaimed Pickens to be a saint for his tack to the left to embrace wind power as a business. I pegged him as a billionaire seeing an opportunity to make more billions, but at least in an area that is of environmental interest.
Like I’d said last week, “Pickens and the like can have their money, and we can have a cleaner, better world.”
A Second Look at the Pickens Plan
Not surprisingly – and as at least a couple of comments posted on that previous Pickens blog entry mentioned – the Pickens Plan doesn’t do good just ’cause it’s good. Might there be an ulterior motive?
A July 25, 2008 Popular Mechanics magazine article says that Pickens has another, lesser-talked about plan in mind:
“ Pickens is in the planning stages of a $1.5 billion initiative to pump billions of gallons of water from an ancient aquifer beneath the Texas Panhandle and build pipelines to ship them to thirsty cities such as Dallas…
“Company officials and experts agree that a continuation of the drought impacting large portions of the United States could turn Pickens into something of a water baron.”
In a co-written op-ed piece by Republican State Senators Ken Seliger (Amarillo) and Robert Duncan (Lubbock), published July 12 at LubbockOnline.com, the pair writes of Pickens strong-arming his way to a land and water grab, a move they dub unequivocally negative for West Texans.
“The brand-new Roberts County Fresh Water Supply District No. 1, acting as an alter ego of businessman T. Boone Pickens and Mesa Power Pampa, LLC, has launched a private venture that may force landowners in 11 counties to submit to the power of eminent domain so they can pump water from the shrinking Ogallala Aquifer and sell wind-generated electricity. This new governmental entity is composed of only five people, all employees or associates of Mr. Pickens.”
Is the Pickens Plan At All Good for Us?
The word seems to have been out for a little while that Pickens’ plan is about more than just finding a dose of do-gooding in his heart in his twilight years. Critics seem to be trying to defy Pickens’ mission, but that may be easier said than done at the moment.
Pickens’ commercials are much more prominent on television than any critics’ rebuttals are, if those opponents are on T.V. at all. All I’ve seen is Pickens touting his conversion to energies of the future.
A Couple of Questions:
- Does Pickens’ holy-dollar, billionaire focus on wronging folks in Texas to grab water mean his plan to build a massive swath of wind turbines up and down the plains is a sham?
- Or are these two things somehow separable? Is he perhaps still a leader in guiding corporate and government leaders – and the public – away from oil dependence?
(Not that I at all support the land and water grab, and certainly not via a concocted eminent domain swindle!)
But I am trying to parse out the deeds here.
In short… Do we go ahead and fully dismiss T. Boone Pickens’ plan for wind and natural gas and energy self-reliance?
Maybe this comment by Duncan and Seliger offers a partial answer:
“There is an undeniable demand growing for renewable energy. Wind power is coming to Texas and it will be developed in the Panhandle and West Texas, regardless of whether Mr. Pickens’ latest venture succeeds.”