T. Boone Pickens says US needs an energy plan, must rely on its own resources

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Natural gas mogul T. Boone Pickens says America needs an energy plan, something that will only occur if voters become more educated about the issue.

In advance of a Young America’s Foundation debate at George Washington University that pits Pickens against free-market economist and writer Steve Moore, the Texas billionaire outlined some of his ideas for The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“There is no energy plan for America,” he said. “The debate questions is that we in America do not understand the resources that we have available to us – we do not understand energy. When gasoline prices go up, Bill O’Reilly says it is Exxon that is the cause of it — that is not the case. We need to educate ourselves more about energy because it is such a huge factor in the everyday life of Americans.”

“As it unfolds you say to yourself that we thought we were so dependent on Middle Eastern oil. But then you find out that is not the case,” Pickens added. “I do not think that is generally understood in America.”

So what is Pickens’ energy plan?

“I think it starts off as, let’s get on our own resources,” Pickens said, laying out his plan. “Any country on its own resources is doing well. You could cut the trade deficit by 25 to 30 percent by just taking out OPEC oil. You don’t need it.”

“Show a little leadership in Washington,” he added. “Put together North American Energy Alliance. You have sat here and protected a cartel, OPEC, for the last forty years and you could put together an energy alliance of friendly nations and never have to take a barrel of OPEC oil.”

Pickens’ energy views are somewhat controversial among conservatives and libertarians. He champions domestic energy production, but has been criticized for wanting energy subsidies, in particular for natural gas.

“I have not asked for subsidies for natural gas,” Pickens said. “What I asked for, the difference in the cost of the natural gas engine and the diesel engine was about $30,000 and I said, give a tax credit for the $30,000 with a pay-for and the pay-for would be user pay.”

“I’ve got [Sen. John McCain] saying ‘you are trying to make me pick winners,’” Pickens said. “Okay, we’ve got heavy duty trucks, that is what I am after, you’ve got two fuels that will move it — diesel and natural gas… So he says, you are trying to pick winners. You are trying to make me pick natural gas. Okay, so don’t pick natural gas, what do you get? You get OPEC oil. So you have picked a winner by not picking your own fuel.”

The so-called Pickens Plan never received congressional approval, but Pickens said he didn’t lose any sleep over it because the natural gas boom is moving things in his direction anyway.

“You are moving heavy duty trucking to natural gas now because it is two dollars a gallon cheaper — it is half the cost of diesel,” he said.

Pickens reiterated that he does not see his policy as a subsidy.

“I am opposed to subsidies,” Pickens said. “I was in the wind business and lost a lot of money. Will wind work? It will absolutely work. Do you want to subsidize it? The only way you are going to make it work is if you subsidize it. Solar is the same thing. Those are not forms of energy that are going to exhaust, fleet, or go away… There may be a better times to use them, but if you want to subsidize them they’re available in the morning.”

“The market is working. If you want to analyze subsidies critically, you have actually subsidized OPEC oil,” Pickens added. “We have [naval vessels] in the Persian Gulf. You are there to protect 17 million barrels coming out of the Persian Gulf and out of that 17 million we only get 10 percent.”

TheDCNF asked Pickens if he would be willing to support a bill introduced by Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo that would eliminate energy subsidies.

“Pompeo is a Congressman from Kansas, now who do you think pulls his chains?” Pickens responded. “Koch Industries.”

“Koch Industries is in the fertilizer business. They are in the plastic business and they import 60,000 barrels of OPEC crude every day and they are also big ethanol producers,” he added. “All those things, what I am for, they are against. They want cheap natural gas for fertilizer and plastics. They want OPEC crude for their refinery in Corpus Christi and they want to produce ethanol with the subsides. And so Rep. Pompeo is going to do what the Kochs want him to do, but what the hell, that is how the government is set up.”

Pickens also said that he was in favor of exporting natural gas abroad, but added that low-priced natural gas should be used domestically.

“I am not opposed to it,” he said. “We have the right to get into the best markets.  I am a free-market person, but going back to leadership in Washington… Why do you want to export to some other country? We have the cheapest energy in the world in the U.S. You have businesses moving back to the U.S. because it is cheap energy.”

Finally, TheDCNF asked Pickens what to expect in his debate with Moore.

“I don’t know exactly what Steve’s position on government is, but I think Steve understands the issue,” Pickens said. “He is a smart guy and he is not going to get in front of anybody and not feel comfortable talking about a subject.  We do not agree exactly because we have done this before and it is always really friendly — but what I want to do is get this debate to go all around the country.”

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