for National Geographic News
"I'm T. Boone Pickens. I've been an oilman all my life, but this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of. And I have a plan. "
The twangy entreaties of a Texas tycoon have been filling the pre-election airwaves in the U.S. TV ads for the so-called Pickens Plan have gotten many Americans thinking about wind power and natural gas-fueled cars as ways to reduce dependence on foreign oil. The plan's environmental claims have even won the conservative oilman some strange bedfellows, including conservation powerhouse the Sierra Club.
Yet some energy experts say the plan is too expensive, inefficient, and may not ease U.S. dependence on fuel from Russia, Iran, and other countries.
Critics also say it's hard not to notice that the multibillionaire Pickens—with his extensive wind farm and natural gas holdings—stands to profit, should his plan be realized.
The ten-year plan, Pickens says, would help break U.S. dependency on foreign oil by using vast new wind farms to fuel power plants.
(Related: "U.S. Leads World in Wind-Power Growth" [April 21, 2008].)
That change would free up the natural gas currently used to produce about a fifth of U.S. electricity. Natural gas could then see more widespread use in cars and trucks, reducing the United States' need for foreign oil, he says.
Natural gas burns cleaner in cars and trucks and is currently cheaper than gasoline.
Perhaps not coincidentally, a Pickens-founded company called Clean Energy runs the United States' biggest chain of natural gas fueling stations.
Sample Pickens Plan Ad
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