New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently sat down with T. Boone to talk about the Pickens Plan. Describing T. Boone as a cross between J.R. Ewing of “Dallas” and Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, Friedman left the breakfast impressed. From his Sunday column:
Pickens is motivated by American nationalism. Because of all the money we are shipping abroad to pay for our oil addiction, he says, “we are on the verge of losing our superpower status.” His vision is summed up on his Web site: “We import 70 percent of our oil at a cost of $700 billion a year … I have been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of. If we create a renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil.”
Pickens made clear to me over breakfast last week that he was tired of waiting for Washington to produce a serious energy plan. So his company, Mesa Power, is now building the world’s largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle, where he’s spent $2 billion buying land and 700 wind turbines from General Electric — the largest single turbine order ever. The U.S. could secure 20 percent of its electricity needs from wind alone.
But Pickens knows he’s unique. Unless, he says, “Congress adopts clear, predictable policies” — with long-term tax incentives and infrastructure — so thousands of investors can jump into clean power, we’ll never get the scale we need to break our addiction. For a year, Senate Republicans have been blocking such incentives for wind and solar energy. They vote again next week.
If only we had a Congress and president who, instead of chasing crazy schemes like offshore drilling and releasing oil from our strategic reserve, just sat down with Boone and Shai and asked one question: “What laws do we need to enact to foster 1,000 more like you?” Then just do it, and get out of the way.
Check out the full column here.