Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pickens offers energy plan involving wind power, natural gas


Tonight, ABC World News Tonight discussed the energy plan of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. His website “Pickens Plan” offers a 5 minute video that explains the plan. In 1970, Pickens says, the United States imported 24% of the oil that it uses. By 1990, the number was 42% (after the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, and then the Saudi increase in production in 1985). Now it is 70%, and costs this country $700 billion a year. That’s about $2000 per person, either for fuel, debt, loss in the value of the dollar, etc.

Even though he is an "oil man" Pickens says we can't just drill our way out of this problem, even offshore.

Pickens wants to build massive wind farms in the Great Plains. He has model farms in Sweetwater and Pampa TX. (where the largest wind farm in the world is being built, on the high plains in the Panhandle). That would free up natural gas used for electricity generation for use in automobiles (presumably instead of hybrids). Natural gas, he says, is cleaner, emits less carbon dioxide, and is domestic so it will be cheaper. Detroit, of course, has to decide what technology to emphasize in building new cars, and that affects what infrastructure is built across the country by oil companies.

I’ve had some correspondence with one of the people mentioned in the recent film “Escape from Suburbia” (see my movies blog for July 4), about a forthcoming book by Scott Kellogg, “Toolbox for Sustainable City Living” (South End Press, 2008). I’m told that his concept is “radical sustainability” and that solar power won’t fill the bill, because the panels will wear out in 25 years and we will be tethered to an industry that produces them. I don’t know how credible this claim is.



Update: July 22


T. Boone Pickens described his Plan to Congress today, according to an AP story by Suzanne Gamboa, link here. Pickens does not believe we can find enough oil in the free world at acceptable price to get out of our quicksand trap of dependence on foreign oil. He warns we could see $300 a barrel in ten years or less.

Update: July 26


Ali Velshi's program on CNN raises the question of migratory birds being harmed by windmills. It's not clear if the birds are smart enough not to fly into them.

Update: Aug. 22, 2008

A Southern Maryland family will build a 33-foot windmill on its property, according to a story in The Washington Post by Megan Greenwell, "Wind Power's Energetic Fans
Environmentally Conscious Couple Seeks Approval to Build Turbine in S.Md.," link here.

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