T. Boone Pickens Talks Natural Gas, Energy Independence, Peak Oil and Swift Boating with Katie Couric

Last week T. Boone Pickens unveiled his plan to increase U.S. renewable energy and reduce dependence on foreign oil by expanding the nation’s wind energy portfolio and using natural gas to power cars.

In this 12-minute video clip from last week Katie Couric asks Pickens more about his plan, plus his past political activities with the Swift Boat Veterans and their campaign against former presidential nominee John Kerry. Be forewarned: At the start of the clip you have to sit through a 30-second ad. The one which preceeded the clip the first time I watched it was for ExxonMobil. I laughed at that juxtaposition.

It’s TV news, so even in this extended interview, don’t expect any really in-depth questioning of Pickens’ responses. For those that don’t want to watch the whole clip, here are some of the energy-related highlights:
Do we have the infrastructure and cars to actually make a switch to natural gas?

Not completely...GM has 25 cars they built for natural gas. All of them are foreign... South America, Europe. None are for the United States. You could just as easily build them here as you could there. So cars can be made available pretty quick. You’re gonna focus on the bigger equipment though...medium and heavy duty trucks and buses. ... There are 8 million vehicles in the world today that run on natural gas. ... If natural gas went for transportation fuel it would reduce our imports [of oil] by 38%, which would save us $300 billion a year in this country.

As many people have said, and I second, it’s probably better to use natural gas in more efficient ways than as a transport fuel. Ultimately natural gas reserves will exhaust themselves as well, both in the United States and abroad. As that happens a natural gas dependency could just replace our current oil dependency.

A better solution would be to have electric powered vehicles, better public transportation infrastructure to reduce private motor vehicle demand, civic infrastructure changes so daily commutes can be made shorter and use natural gas to replace electricity generated currently by coal. Part of the problem with U.S. transportation energy usage is the structure of the system itself, in addition to the fuel that powers it.

Are you trying to become the Al Gore of energy independence?

I am more focused, not on green, I am focused more on the $700 billion going out of the country. I’m not opposed to any...Al, I don’t think he’s for drilling in the offshore...I’m for doing anything we can to reduce that dependency.

Whatever his motivations—patriotism or environmentalism—the result of Pickens investment in wind will be more renewable energy, which is a good thing. Even if the natural gas portion of the plan isn’t great. However the amount of oil in ANWR and the offshore areas that are off limits will do little to further US energy independence for very long. Gaining a few more years worth of oil at the cost of potential further environmental degradation is a distraction from the greater changes that need to happen in US energy supply.

Why do you think oil is so high?

Because we peaked on oil production. 85 million barrels a day is what the world produces and you have a demand of 86.4 ... Consequently you’re bidding for the marginal barrel. And when you're competing against China, India and all the developing countries, they bid the price up.

Even though Pickens isn’t the first former oil man to publicly talk about peak oil as a current reality, it still amazes me when I hear it on television. I just wish there was a bit more probing into this question. The consequences are so profound, and even though many people aren’t aware of the issue, they easily grasp the problem once the concept is explained and the production numbers given. It’s high time the peak oil discussion becomes as commonplace as climate change.

via :: CBS News Video
The Pickens Plan
Wind Power to Displace Natural Gas for Electricity, Natural Gas to Power Cars: The Pickens Plan
The Pickens Plan, Part Two: Partial Deconstruction
T. Boone Pickens
T. Boone Pickens Gets Into The Texas Wind: 4,000 Megawatts Worth
T. Boone Pickens Rides the Wind

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