The Pickens Plan
By Bill Moore
Apart from backing the swiftboating of U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, T Boone Pickens seems a likable, plain speaking Oklahoma oil man that I've had to pleasure to meet briefly on two occasions, the most recent at the AFVi alt fuels vehicle conference in California in 2007. [See Straight Talk from T. Boone Pickens].
We also happen to share similar concerns about peak oil and an interest in wind power, in which he's putting his money where his convictions are by bankrolling what will be the largest single wind farm in the world in west Texas.
So, I wasn't all that surprised to see him roll out the nationally distributed television commercial below.
That one-minute commercial is a summary of the longer presentation below that goes into more details about the reasons for his plan, which would cut American oil imports upwards of 38% by shifting the 22 percent of natural gas now used to generate electric power for use instead in our transportation fleet, a move that is already well underway in other parts of the world, especially in Iran.
Picken's plan would substitute the 22 percent electric power generation from natural gas to wind farms and solar stretching across America's heartland and desert Southwest. While he doesn't discuss the role of conventional and plug-in hybrids -- which with the exception of Hyundai are all gasoline fueled at the moment -- his plan could be fairly quickly implements since conversion kits do exist for switching a gasoline car to compressed natural gas.
However, the fly in the ointment here is -- again -- infrastructure. Natural gas fueling stations will have to be built or adapted, and natural gas isn't readily available everywhere. It also happens to be a limited fossil fuel resource that will someday peak. Also, CNG cars have relatively shorter ranges than gasoline cars and their tanks pretty much occupy all the trunk space in your average car. Also, at the moment, only Honda actually makes a factory-fitted CNG vehicle, the Civic GX.
Switching to natural gas would have some environmental benefits as identified by the U.S. Department of Energy, including a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions.
So, with these caveats, here is Boone's 10-minute talk on how to reduce America's dependence on imported oil, which is now costing the nation $700 billion annually and climbing.
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