Pickens pushing for independence

10 09, 2012 by Daily Advertiser

The U.S. can work toward North American energy independence if it recognizes and utilizes what resources it has, first and foremost natural gas, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens said during an editorial board meeting with The Daily Advertiser on Monday.

"The country has so much natural gas that it's a shame that we don't replace everything we can, because it's cleaner for one, but it's cheaper, it's abundant and it's ours," Pickens said. "That's pretty hard to beat."

Pickens appeared with U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-South Louisiana, in Lafayette on Monday to discuss natural gas and domestic energy policy, stopping at The Advertiser and the Apache Compressed Natural Gas pump on Verot School Road.

Natural gas is 30 percent cleaner than diesel, Pickens said, and building the infrastructure for natural gas fueling stations could come "very quickly." Lafayette Consolidated Government and the city bus fleet has begun transitioning to compressed natural gas vehicles, with plans to replace some of UL and Lafayette Parish School System buses with compressed natural gas buses.

Pickens has advocated the need to back away from importing OPEC oil from the Middle East and South America, mainly by transitioning vehicles to natural gas. He pushed for failed legislation that would have subsidized natural gas and replace old 18-wheelers with 18-wheelers that run on natural gas.

That would reduce the need for imported oil by 3 million barrels a day, 75 percent of the 4.5 million OPEC barrels imported every day, Pickens said.

"You're just being stupid to continue to import oil from the enemy, because some part of the oil you're paying for oil coming from the Persian Gulf goes into the Taliban," Pickens said. "Cut that off."

The natural gas bill, although backed by both Democrats and Republicans, met opposition from the Koch brothers, who use natural gas for fertilizer and do not want the price to rise, Pickens said. Some push back also came from environmentalists.

But Pickens said the plan he has advocated for years, dubbed the "Pickens Plan," places renewable energy at the top of the list but keeps a strong dependence on fossil fuels.

"You've got a bunch of these people who are very environmentally indoctrinated and they want to shut down the coal fire plants and get on wind. Well, wind doesn't blow every day, so they say, 'Solar.' Well, the sun doesn't shine every day either," Pickens said. "You're unrealistic because you're going to be using fossil fuels for the next 100 years, so the thing to do is to understand the portfolio and then deploy it to your best advantage. That's what I'm trying to accomplish."

Pickens also helped Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney draft his 21-page energy plan that calls for North America to be energy independent by 2020, which Pickens said could be possible with oil from Canada and Mexico. He called Romney's plan "realistic," and said it's the first real plan he has seen.

"I go back to the statement that Richard Nixon made in 1970. He said, 'Elect me and I won't import any oil into the United States. The day he said it, we imported 44 percent. The day he went out of office, we imported 28 percent," Pickens said. "We got clear up to 65 percent and now we're slightly under 50 percent, but everyone of them — Democrat, Republican — said we would be energy independent or something along those lines and nobody ever had a plan. The only plan I've ever seen is the Romney plan."