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Pickens Plan Problems

US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

Slim Pickens was a cowboy and actor, but a slim picking is not the adjectival phrase for T. Boone Pickens and his wealth. One of his books is titled. “The First Billion is the Hardest: Reflections on the Life of Comebacks and America’s Energy Future.” He is busily making the second and likely the third billion much easier. His plan uses the combination of wind power with energy sufficiency and independence for the US.

Initially, his advertisements put wind power front and center. In doing so, he put on the cloak of green, a phrase I co-opted from Elaine Dewar’s wonderful book of the same name. I’ve used the phrase to describe what many politicians feel forced to do. They understand the real science of climate change, but dare not appear opposed to protecting the environment.

Pickens uses wind power as his cloak of green to buy credibility and time to make natural gas the primary power for vehicles and develop nuclear and coal sources. He throws in other alternative energies as a lining to the cloak. I’ve advocated natural gas for vehicles and nuclear and coal for electricity for many years. Oil will serve the petrochemical industry and produce aviation fuels. Reduced demand for oil means that even current reserves will last for a very long time.

So what concerns me about Pickens' proposals? Initially it was the wind power proposal, which clearly demonstrates his lack of understanding of the severe limitations of that energy. More recently, it is the advertisement of a natural gas company spokesperson talking about his “good friend” Mr. Pickens. I am not opposed to capitalism or profit; however, I am opposed to achieving the latter with deception. Mr. Pickens folksy manner and financial success are used to convince people wind power can provide 20% of US energy. He appears on television programs selling his proposal to a public and political leaders desperate for solutions.

Pickens’ facade of being knowledgeable with a clear solution is quickly dispelled with a few facts about wind power. Like all alternate energies it is not a panacea. He needs to spend his money on accurate cost benefit analyses of all alternate energies. He should urge government to do the same thing before he takes a penny of the massive government subsidies that are seriously distorting analysis of alternative energies.

Click here to read the complete article by Dr. Tim Ball in this week's Canada Free Press.

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