Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW
The Greenwash Brigade

An oil man who gets the energy big picture

Dennis Markatos Jul 19, 2008

Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is helping to spur the renewable energy revolution our country and the world need.

You’ve probably seen his advertisements running over the last few days. I am one observer who is ecstatic that he is putting his resources toward such an initiative.

T. Boone Pickens is promoting a 10-year plan that would help lower US emissions and focuses on reducing our dependence on foreign oil. He has made hundreds of millions betting on the recent rise in the price of oil and gas, and firmly believes that our world is in an oil crisis as supply stagnates while demand climbs higher. He sees our current oil import bill of almost $700 billion per year as economically crippling and wants to replace oil with wind power. By increasing wind power from its current 20 gigawatts to 400 gigawatts over the next 10 years (a 35% growth rate similar to the rate of the last ten years), the plan would free up enough natural gas to run a quarter of US vehicles and lower our oil import bill by $200-plus billion per year by 2018.

Pickens is running advertisements throughout the country to get Presidential candidates to take oil scarcity seriously and make sound energy policy a top priority in their Administrative agenda. For a swift-boat veteran funder in 2004, I think his election efforts will do a lot more good this time around. Though in addition to wind, I would recommend 20 gigawatts of solar power (a similar growth rate to wind’s) to provide for new energy needs as fossil fuels increase in price.

Some complain that he has an interest in wind power succeeding, so he is just being self-serving. But I think his plans to build the world’s biggest wind farm in west Texas at 4 gigawatts shows he is putting his money where his mouth is. It gives his goals legitimacy. And Texas’ recent approval to support 18.5 GW of transmission lines to send wind power from rural west Texas to the cities in the central and eastern part of the state makes the Pickens Plan that much more reasonable. I may not agree with Pickens on many political issues but when it comes to energy, I appreciate his contributions toward helping our country move from laggard to leader in the renewable energy revolution. His strong investments, by ordering the first GW of wind turbines for his record-breaking wind farm, shows he is not just a green talker — but also a green walker.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.