T. Boone Pickens is coming to the prairie today, to discuss his energy plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil. This is a good thing, insofar as we are now talking about a deeply intractable problem and, as a proud funder of the slimy, misnomered Swift Veterans for Truth (to the tune of about three million dollars), there will be a lot of interest in what he has to say in our capital city (where the Positive Voter Index stands at Republicans +7).
If you read the Pickens Plan, as he exhorts us to do in numerous commercials, you might think that he's had some kind of deathbed conversion. He calls the United States "the Saudi Arabia of wind power," and cites a 2005 study by Stanford University, which revealed that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand seven times over (I'm stuck on the fact that Pickens-one of the largest donors to conservative causes-is actually citing a study from a University he would probably otherwise dismiss as a liberal hotbed). It's certainly striking to see someone who has spent a lifetime in the oil business become such a champion for alternative energy sources, but he seems to be one zealous convert.
Of course, there's always a catch and in his case, it's significant. For Pickens, the operative idea is not as much a reduction in reliance on oil in toto as a reduction in reliance on FOREIGN oil. As it turns out, he's all for drilling anywhere and everywhere in this country: "I say east, west coast and ANWR—get it all! To get off of foreign oil, that is the enemy...You’re drilling and whatever you are able to find and put into the domestic system will help us.”
But this is not written into the text of the Pickens Plan. And there is probably a good reason for this: he knows that not one ounce of oil, taken from these places, is ever going to result in bringing down the price of gas at the pump in any significant way. It is disingenuous at best, and a ridiculous lie at worst, to imply that failure to exploit these resources is the reason for high gas prices, as he does. According to the Energy Information Administration, there MIGHT be a tiny decline in pump prices by 2030, should such drilling take place. So the question is, would such drilling be worth the environmental impact?
I hope Pickens means what he says about wind. Here in Kansas, where our governor wisely put her foot down on the construction of two coal plants on the grounds that they would have negative environmental impacts, wind seems like a great alternative. But we should all read his fine print (so fine it's non-existent) before signing up.