I’m a big fan of the objective of the Pickens Plan: becoming energy self sufficient.
I’d like to take it one step further and help the rest of the industrialized world become energy self sufficient. Wind farms are a fantastic approach in solving this problem. My only beef with the plan is the reliance on natural gas. My two main concerns are environmental and economic.
The main environmental concern is that natural gas is not carbon neutral. True, it burns “cleaner” than other hydrocarbon fuels, but the product of combustion is still CO2. Bio-fuels also produce CO2, but they also absorb it, to some degree, when the bio-mass grows. Possibly more environmentally damaging is the practice of using hydraulic fracturing to extract more from gas wells. The chemicals used in this process contaminate groundwater with known carcinogens. If contaminating your well isn’t bad enough, many of the big reserves are in pristine wilderness areas. To explore requires roads, power lines, pipelines or liquid natural gas (LNG) compressors and storage tanks.
The main economic concern is about the cost. Sure it’s cheap compared to gas now, but if we start using LNG for trucks, trains and planes, the demand will surely drive up the price. Which means it will drive up the price for those who use it for heating, cooking, etc. The cost to build LNG stations and engine retooling will also impact the cost of going to LNG. If this is to be a “bridge to the future” the technology will have to be in place for many decades in order to amortize the costs involved.
Does this preclude other ideas, such as going back to rail, a much more efficient and cost effective method to transport freight? I don’t think so, but these ideas, or the proposal for new ideas we’ve not thought of yet, need to be in the plan.
T. Boone Pickens didn’t get to be a billionaire by dumb luck. He’s a smart guy. He’s doing this as a patriotic gesture. He’ll probably go to that big oil field in the sky before he sees his plan bear fruit. We haven’t seen this kind of leadership on energy independence since Jimmy Carter. The plan isn’t perfect, but I’m with him 100%. Except for the natural gas part.