, Farm Journal Business & Crops Online Editor
T. Boone Pickens, a nearly 60-year veteran of the oil and gas business, is worried about the U.S.'s energy future. So, he's trying to do something about it. "We have never had an energy plan in America,” Pickens says. "Now is the time to do that.”
Pickens released the "Pickens Plan” July 8 during a press conference in New York. The plan outlines the necessary steps, he believes, that will give the U.S. a more-secure energy future.
Diagnosing the U.S.'s Addiction to Oil
Pickens says the U.S. has become too heavily dependent on oil sources beyond its borders. He states:
- In 1970, 24% of the oil consumed in the U.S. was imported.
- In 1990, 42% was imported.
- Now in 2008, nearly 70% of the oil used in the U.S. is from foreign suppliers.
The U.S. also burns a tremendous amount of oil based on per capita consumption. Pickens says the world produces 85 million barrels of oil a day. Around 21 million, or roughly 25%, of those gallons are used in the U.S., even though the U.S. only makes up 4% of the world's population.
Figuring out the Fuel Options
Pickens says the U.S. will not be able to continue to meet its energy demands without diversifying its energy portfolio. Currently the U.S. uses four major sources of electrical generation:
- Coal – 50%
- Natural Gas – 22%
- Nuclear – 20%
- Other – 8%
Pickens says the U.S. has several fuel options, with some being better than others.
Coal: "Coal is just not going to do it,” he says.
Natural Gas: Pickens believes natural gas is the best option for a transportation fuel source. He says it burns cleaner, is cheaper and is domestic. Additionally, he says nearly 8 million vehicles in the world are capable of running on natural gas.
Ethanol: Pickens admits ethanol is not going to be the energy solution in the U.S., but says he likes it better than foreign oil. "Ethanol is an ugly baby, but it's our baby.”
Hydro power: "It works great,” he says. But, he doesn't see it as a feasible option due to the lack of resources.
Wind/Solar: Pickens applauds the use of both wind and solar as renewable energy sources. He says they haven't been developed as they should because foreign oil was too cheap for too long.
Nuclear: "Nuclear will work,” he says. "But, it will take a long time.”
Pickens believes the best candidate for breaking the addiction to foreign oil is natural gas. "Natural gas is the second largest natural resource in the country,” he says. "It is the only resource in America we have that can make a difference.”
He also says the country has to develop more wind farms and that the U.S. has a better potential for large-scale wind power than any country in the world. He also believes building wind farms in rural America is a fabulous opportunity to turn a local economy around.
By taking advantage of the U.S.'s natural gas resources and building new wind-generation facilities, as outlined in his plan, Pickens says more than one-third of foreign oil imports will be replaced within 10 years.
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