Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive April 2009 Show 0915 Pickens Push

Pickens Push

T. Boone Pickens is on the road promoting what he's calling the Pickens' Plan.
Pickens Push

T. Boone Pickens

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The Pickens Plan

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Show 0915: Pickens Push

Air date: April 12, 2009



Rob:  Oklahoma’s T Boone Pickens knows how to make news.  Over his career, the legendary oilman has been up, and he’s been down; yet through it all, on the forefront of change.  In the 1970’s, he made a name as a corporate raider, changing corporate America forever.  Now in his 80’s, Boone Pickens’ attention is focused on helping America end its dependence on foreign oil, while building a homegrown alternative energy sector.  This week we spend our entire show visiting with a gentleman whose impact on our nation has yet to be fully realized.  But before I sit down with him, some background on his latest venture, “The Pickens Plan.”  Here’s our Hannah Wright.

Did you know America uses 25 percent of the world's oil, but only has three percent of the world's oil reserve?

Hannah:  He made his first fortune in the oilfields of Texas, but today it's wind T Boone Pickens is banking on.  Speaking to a group of reporters, promoting his new book, “The First Billion is the Hardest,” Pickens says in 1970 America imported 24% of oil supplies. Today, it’s nearly 70% and growing.  And at a cost of 700 billion dollars per year, it’s something he believes we can no longer afford.

Pickens:  You’ve got to have a plan. And for 40 years, we’ve had no plan.

Hannah:  That’s why Pickens is spending 58 million dollars of his own money to promote a plan he believes will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by one third… and all within 10 years.

Hannah:  Currently America gets its electrical power from three major sources: 50% coal, 20% Nuclear, and 22% natural gas. Now the first step in The Pickens’ Plan is to produce enough wind energy to replace the natural gas.  Natural gas that Pickens then wants to use for transportation and trucking.  Lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

Pickens:  Iran is changing its cars to run on natural gas.  And we’re not doing a thing here.  They’re doing this to use less oil and sell it for 120 dollars a barrel.

There are 8 million vehicles in the world today that are on natural gas.  There are only 142,000 in the United States, and we have more gas than anybody else does.  Why don't our cars, why aren’t they on natural gas?  Well, the major oil companies didn’t want it, and the chemical companies didn’t want it, and they have a strong lobby, and they worked hard to see that it didn’t happen.

Hannah:  And demand has nowhere to go but up.  In this country, 75% of Americans own cars.  In China, it’s only 4 percent.  But, it's 4 percent and growing.  An increased global demand putting pressure on an already limited supply.  So, rather than increasing our dependence on foreign oil, Pickens has turned his attention to the skies.

Pickens:  Wind is fabulous from the standpoint that we have a corridor of wind that goes from Texas to Canada.  And here we are with those.  Why haven’t they been developed?  Because gasoline was cheap.

Hannah:  And Pickens is putting his money where his mouth is.  He’s already spent 2 billion dollars to purchase turbines for his wind project in Pampa, Texas.  A project he hopes will eventually produce 4,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power almost one million homes per year.

Pickens:  We will generate probably 2,000 to 2,500 jobs in that project.  That’s a lot.  And you’ll be left with half of them as employees to maintain everything.  Then the construction people move out.

Hannah:  And while no stranger to the politics of Washington, Pickens believes if real change in our energy plan is to happen, it will take more than just money.  It will need the support of Americans ready for change.

Pickens:  If I get a million people signed up with me, I’ve got something I’ve never had before.  I’ve got power now.  A million people is a hell of a lot better trying to get something done, than being a millionaire.

Hannah:  Help from the same people, Pickens says, will reap the long-term benefits of his plan.

Pickens:  But, you know, you’re going to revitalize rural America.  You’re going to revitalize the auto making industry in America.  It’s a win, win, win, every place you go.  There’s no losers.  There's only one loser, and that’s foreign oil.  And I want to make them a big loser.