Obama promised T. Boone Pickens that government cars would run on natural gas

Oil magnate T. Boone Pickens believes President Obama has a plan to keep his campaign promise to wean America off foreign oil within 10 years — and Pickens thinks, well, he is the plan.

“[Obama is] a smart guy and I don’t think he would have said what he said if he didn’t have a plan – because that’s a big damn statement,” Pickens said on Monday in D.C., where he was promoting his natural gas and renewable energy blueprint known as the Pickens Plan.

“What I’d like for him to say and, I thought this was going to be in the State of the Union, is that all federal vehicles will now be on … domestic fuel,” Pickens said. In August 2008 the then-Illinois-senator requested a meeting with the 82-year-old tycoon, and Pickens told Obama that campaigning on a promise of getting 1 million electric hybrids on the road in 10 years was laughable. It was a drop in the bucket Pickens said, with more than 220 million cars on the road (though putting a few hundred thousand federal vehicles on domestic fuel would send a strong signal). Enter the Pickens Plan — a proposal to cut foreign oil imports in half by investing heavily in wind and natural gas-powered vehicles.

Pickens thought this year’s State of the Union was going to be his moment.

“A statement that was made to me was: ‘Don’t worry it’s going to be in there tonight’ — and then it wasn’t in there and the answer I got was: ‘The speech got too long and we had to cut it out,’” said a disappointed Pickens. He keeps hoping he will see the president leading America away from a dependence of foreign oil.

Pickens said he supports any kind of energy, “natural gas, electric, battery, I don’t care” — as long as it’s not “funding our enemies.”

“I’m a proponent of anything for America. Listen, 10 years ago if someone had said ethanol I might have thrown up — not anymore. Ethanol is ours and I’m for anything American.” Pickens is rich, old and sharp — he makes the rounds to the most influential lawmakers and opinion makers in the country, spreading his gospel.  Last week Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham introduced an energy bill that included many of the natural gas provisions, such as tax credits for natural gas powered vehicles, Pickens has been calling for.

The Pickens Plan, introduced a year and half ago when a stop at the pump cost $4.11 per gallon and oil was $140 a barrel, surprised many people who were quickly suspicious of the oil man who suddenly changed his tune to green-speak and renewable energy. Pickens, a former wildcatter, made his billions in oil development in the 1980s.

Pickens waves off the criticism that he stands to profit handsomely from any government programs for natural gas vehicles. “Yes I have some holdings in hedge funds,” he said, but claimed he wouldn’t have spent $62 million in advertising for his plan if he was in it for the money. Pickens owns a controlling stake in Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which owns natural gas production plants in Texas and California and operates a network of natural gas refueling stations. Pickens has also invested heavily in wind farms and water rights.

Pickens said that his motives are simple and patriotic. “I was never in a war,” he said. “World War II, I was a little bit too young and I should have been in the Korean War but I was married and had a child and I was deferred. And then I was too old for Vietnam … My dad was in World War I and it’s always bothered me that I … damn it, that I should have gone to the Korean War.”

“As this unfolded I thought, you know what, maybe this is your mission in life — maybe this is the mission that you get to do for the country,” he said.

Pickens said he is warning lawmakers that China is a threat — it has a plan and is working to secure oil pipelines while the U.S. is being left behind.

“We missed an opportunity,” in Iraq he said. “Because of our losses in Iraq — it cost us $1.5 trillion and we lost 5,000 and 31,000 injured — I really think we owed it to them,” he explained. “To get something for losing those people and spending so much money … a call on the oil at market price, I would think the Iraqis would be happy to give us that … and we didn’t even ask for it. We should have had the right of first refusal.”

“And now the biggest oil field there … Ramallah, will be developed by the Chinese — 15 billion barrels.”

Pickens admitted that President Bush told him he couldn’t do that because it would look as though the war was fought for oil. “But that was before we spent $1.5 trillion and lost 5,000 people,” says Pickens. “It’s eight years later and things change.”

E-mail Aleksandra

  • Pingback: Obama promised T. Boone Pickens that government cars would run on natural gas | My Blog

  • hurtzallot

    I’m surprised he wasn’t promised cars running on hot air with all of it coming out of DC these days. I wish I hadn’t shot my wad on all those wind turbines that still haven’t been built yet.

  • Bob Lanier

    Patrick…Boone is not “turning the screws” on the President. He is only telling the truth about their meeting. Boone has always been known for his impeccable integrity in and out of the petroleum business dating back to the mid-50’s. He is too smart to misquote and/or misinterpret what the President said or didn’t say! This personal opinion of Mr. Pickens is based on almost 50 years of up-close, personal & professional observation and interaction with this highly intelligent and driven man. If his intense efforts and money should fall short of getting this legislation within the Climate Bill passed…it would be the most short-sighted action by Congress in recent memory given all the facts available for making an informed vote individually and collectively in favor of the aforementioned legislation.

    • patrick

      Mr. Lanier, reread my post. I never said he was lying. I believe him. The question is why is he saying this now? why not 6 months ago? The answer is apparent, it is obvious to him that he needs to “turn the screws” to get what he wants. Are you saying that Boone is above playing hardball? I don’t believe that you are. He has played it time and again. It is stock in trade for those that get to where he is. I respect that.

      Lastly, I’m not suggesting that the climate bill won’t contain this. What I am saying is that the climate bill is DOA. He is looking out for his agenda. He could not care less what piece of legislation that it is attached to, but the horse he is riding is not going anywhere.

  • elektramourns

    Nat gas is the key. God has given us an abundance of it. The problem is white corporate America who cannot stop sucking the teat of big oil and who enslaved to it.

    • anniebanannie

      Pretty damn racist of you to diminish all the Black American CEO’s in this country. For somebody who is supposed to be of uber intelligence, you sure are a bigot.

      “African American CEOs
      The Africans Americans in the United States have really carved a niche for themselves in the corporate world. There are over 75 black men and women in the list of the highest-ranking executives, of which 8 are Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).”

    • patrick

      the infrastructure is not their for natural gas. 2 main problems. First is that natural gas cars can only go a short distance before they require refueling. Second, and biggest problem is that there are very very few places that one can get natural gas in a way that it can go in one’s car. I actually priced this a few years ago. There are companies that will install the equipment in your garage. It is very very expensive. So we don’t have ability to travel very far, and we can’t fill up….but you blame white CEO’s. I’m laying all this out so that you can get a fleeting glance at how stupid your posts are. You really need to learn some critical, dispassionate thinking. It will improve your lot in life significantly.

      Or you can just keep spouting inane dribble and be poor. your choice.

    • noonespetgoat

      White corporate America and big oil? You mean like Standard Oil (now Exxon) and your hero Sen Rockefeller(D) WV?

  • zelda

    I think T. Boone has been had. I don’t see the Left reducing our dependence on oil. They’re just making energy costs more expensive. Sometimes I think it’s because they aren’t really on our side.

  • toddthesofaking

    ““[Obama is] a smart guy and I don’t think he would have said what he said if he didn’t have a plan – because that’s a big damn statement,” Pickens said on Monday in D.C”

    Kind of sounds like Boone doesn’t know the Obama that I know.

    • timeisnow

      You got that right, Obama’s favoriate thing to do is throw people who dontate and campaign for him right under the bus… Well sorry Pickens its your turn..

    • elektramourns

      who is the Obama you know??? i am sure you did not go to the same schools….you would not have the brains for them

      • William Marcy ッ

        How would you know, surprisingly, all of Obamas school records are sealed.

        Must be because he did not want to make everyone feel inferior.

        Wasn’t he selling drugs while in school (at least the book that he supposedly wrote told us he was, but if he said it, a normal person would doubt it).

  • patrick

    I think what Boone is doing here is turning the screws on Obama. He’s been working behind the scenes to get this done and he knows that cap and trade bill, where he hoped to get funding, is dead. He now is turning up the volume on Barry. What he fails to realize is that this thin skinned president will not respond to that. He will now become persona non grata. Look for Boone to now veer right.