I’ll admit – I haven’t read T. Boone PIckens’ book yet. But I’m listening right now to him live on cnn.com and he’s making some remarkably intelligent comments about energy independence that really strike a chord with me.
During the Democratic primaries, I kept saying that my most important issue was energy independence. Health care reform will take probably more than 2 terms – Bill Clinton made it one of his campaign points and didn’t get it done, not even close. There is just too much to fight through, and, in reality, most people just don’t see the problem. The people that don’t have insurance certainly feel it, but if you do, co-pays have stayed about the same ($15-30 for most people I know) and all we really see is that our paycheck goes down $40-$50 depending on the year. The year-long amortization of increasing health care costs just doesn’t smack most people in the face.
But our energy issues do. $4/gallon gas. The amount of dollars spent on foreign oil is staggering but easy to comprehend (‘foreign’ always strikes people). The debate about oil drilling in the US has been going on for years. The concerns about natural gas, nuclear, and coal have been well documented. The promise of fuel cells, electric vehicles, etc has been in the news for a long time, too. It’s all back and forth but it’s there.
Pickens makes some simple and logical points. I haven’t read his book so I’ll just summarize what I’m getting in this one broadcast:
- We got a huge problem right now. We are spending a tremendous amount of money on foreign oil.
- We aren’t ready yet to go immediately to something like electric, solar, wind, etc
- We can go stop-gap for about 10 years with natural gas on the big trucks alone.
- If we were to go with natural gas on just new trucks (not all big rigs), they could go cross-country on just 10 fueling stations, and would decrease our oil consumption by something like 20+%
- If you take the major wind and solar corridors and build like mad you could generate enough power to realistically hold up the grid, but they’d have to be built in the right spots, and start building them now
- Natural gas is one of the biggest resources we have, and we don’t even have to touch ANWR or other contested areas to get it (people talk about how much oil is in ANWR but there is more NG our of shale elsewhere)
- And aim realistic, don’t aim high. Yes, off-shore wind gets you closer to cities, but they are too expensive.
I was just struck by his realistic approach to things. I really need to read his book.