Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pickens Has an Oil Plan. Who'll Pick It Up?

Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has entered the energy debate that is becoming an ever deeper concern for American voters as the price of gas and eventually home heating oil climb. In today's Wall Street Journal ("My Plan to Escape the Grip of Foreign Oil") he presents his plan "to reduce America's foreign oil imports by more than one-third in the next five to 10 years." You can find it more fully elaborated on his website,

"Foreign oil," he says, "is at the intersection of America's three most important issues: the economy, the environment and our national security." Though he mentions new jobs and the "carbon footprint," his concern is primarily national security. "With all my experience, I've never been as worried about our energy security as I am now. Like many of us, I ignored what was happening. Now our country faces what I believe is the most serious situation since World War II." Our oil imports have gone from 24% of consumption in 1973 (the year of the OPEC oil embargo) to 42$ in 1990 (the year of the first Gulf War) to 70% today. Of course, the economy has multiplied in size whereas domestic oil production has likely decreased. He reports that over the next ten years, America will transfer $10 trillion to foreign nations. He does not mention that much of will flow to people who are trouble for America, international evils and curses on their own people.

His plan is to develop a diversity of energy sources--wind in the Midwest, solar in the Southwest, drilling offshore, batteries and fuel cells, and encouraging the use of natural gas powered trucks and buses. He relies largely on the private sector with certain government mandates such as for the formation of wind and solar transmission corridors. It requires "no new consumer or corporate taxes or government regulation."

The question for students of American politics is: which candidate will come forward with the most convincing plan to address this issue. The rhetorical task is to convince the unconvinced that there is a problem, and persuade the convinced that your plan is feasible, relatively swift in it's delivery, reasonably sensitive to the environment, cost efficient and government lite. The Pickens Plan is quite convincing to this energy layman.

Power Line ends a post on the recent AP/Yahoo poll on the presidential race with this: "The Presidential race polls as a dead heat. The tie-breaker is the price of gasoline. Of all issues, it is rated highest by respondents, with 66% saying it is 'extremely important.' If John McCain quits paying lip service to the global warming myth and runs as the candidate who wants to expand our access to energy, he will win rather easily in November."

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