By Paolo von Schirach
January 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – T.Boone Pickens has been and is a tireless advocate for a smart and realistic US energy policy aimed at ending, once and for all, American dependence on OPEC oil. No doubt, thanks to shale oil and gas, plus the promise of more oil imports from Canada, we are doing much better these days. But we are not out of the woods, claims Pickens. We need a “Plan”, and the White House should lead.
Here are T. Boone Pickens’ crisp words of advice, reproduced from an e-mail he sent to supporters and friends on January 30, 2014:
“President Barack Obama talked about energy in his State of the Union address as every President since Richard Nixon has done. In his State of the Union address, President Obama came out strongly for the continued development of natural gas as a major American resource.
That is great news and music to my ears. I have championed a comprehensive national energy strategy – the Pickens Plan – since 2008, with natural gas as a cornerstone. The goal has been to get off OPEC oil by using natural gas for heavy-duty trucking. [bold added]
While I’m obviously heartened by the President’s endorsement of that, I’m also a realist. A plan without action isn’t a plan, it’s a speech. The OPEC oil threat is real. Our national security is threatened by it as is our economic future. After 40 years we just take OPEC for granted, and that’s a big mistake.
As far back as his first State of the Union, President Obama talked about creating and moving energy in new ways. He said “We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across the country.”
Few, if any, miles of new power lines have been proposed, much less sited, engineered or installed. Great plan. No action.
In January 2009 our national energy mix was as it had been for decades: Diminishing domestic oil production, falling levels of natural gas reserves, solar and wind were interesting but difficult to bring to market. Then the Potential Gas Committee released its biennial report that, for the first time, counted what was then known as “unconventional” gas – now known as shale gas – as economically recoverable using modern drilling techniques and the nation’s energy profile was turned on its head.
Credit goes to private individuals and companies taking a chance, risking their money, and using the best minds in the nation to develop new production techniques. They were not the result of a plan – not a Republican plan nor a Democratic plan.
On Tuesday night, the President endorsed a principal element of the Pickens Plan when he called for new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas and other fuels. I’m for unleashing every American resource to back out OPEC oil, be it ethanol, batteries or anything American. But ethanol and batteries won’t move America’s 18-wheelers.
We need to be watchful that the President follows through on this by incentivizing the move from imported diesel to domestic natural gas, by working with major interstate truckers, express delivery companies, and truck manufacturers, as well as state and local governments. [bold added]
Oil is not a player in the production of electricity in America. It accounts for only about one percent of power generation. The rapid move from coal to natural gas (as well as to wind) to produce electricity has led the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to claim that greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels were the lowest in 2012 than any time since 1994.
The real advantage these new reserves of natural gas and oil bring to us, is that we move farther and farther away from the next energy crisis. That is a mixed blessing because our national leaders – for over 40 years – have only acted when a crisis has loomed over their collective heads.
We have over eight million heavy trucks on our roads. Everything from refuse and recycling trucks that go back to “the barn” every night, to over-the-road trucks that run coast-to-coast over the same routes on a regular schedule. Simple arithmetic tells us where to put natural gas refueling stations on the most heavily traveled Interstate highways.
In last year’s State of the Union speech, President Obama said, “The natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and to greater energy independence. We need to encourage that.” That is still a good policy. With so much natural gas we should be looking for ways to utilize our vast supplies – especially where we can use it to replace imported oil.
The President’s focus on natural gas in the 2014 State of the Union speech is important because it helps us keep our eye on the ball. Now, we have to work with leaders at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the companies that will build, fill, and drive the trucks across America to make certain we keep moving toward an economy that is not dependent on OPEC oil.
If the president is serious on natural gas and trucking in America, here’s an idea: Lead by example. Sign an executive order mandating government vehicles use natural gas, and that those who contract with the federal government for goods and services do, too. Because natural gas is so much cheaper than diesel, you can make the case that such an order is fiscally responsible as well as environmentally beneficial. [bold added]
President Obama was right on one other point on Tuesday night: Let’s make this the year of action. There is a domestic energy renaissance in America, with natural gas production leading the way. Let’s act and take advantage of it.”
–T. Boone Pickens
Here it is Ladies and Gentlemen. This is a real “Plan”. Have the Federal Government lead the way by mandating that all new heavy trucks bought by Uncle Sam be powered by Compressed or Liquefied Natural Gas, (CNG or LNG). This now abundant (thanks to hydraulic fracturing) natural gas is produced in America by Americans. It is much cheaper and cleaner than the imported oil that US refiners have to use to make the diesel necessary to power millions of trucks. This is not complicated. Let’s do this –starting now. And, soon enough, we shall be able to convert millions of heavy trucks to LNG or CNG, with huge gains for our energy security, our balance of payments, our economic performance, our employment and our air quality.