T. Boone Pickens Still Wants Subsidies

by Brian McGraw on February 6, 2012

in Blog

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Fresh off a nod from President Obama’s State of the Union speech, T. Boone Pickens has again began to circle the country touting the alleged benefits of providing subsidies for the transportation sector to convert more vehicles to natural gas power. Today, he writes in The Chicago Tribune:

If you are going to transform American energy to address the national security and economic risks associated with our OPEC oil dependence, there is only one solution: move our natural gas reserves into transportation, with an emphasis on the heavy-duty truck and fleet-vehicle markets.

Free-market advocates argue that’s bad public policy. They fail to understand that OPEC is far from a free market. They’ll tell you we shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the transportation fuel segments. I say it’s time to pick America over OPEC. Let’s go with anything American. I’m fine with the battery, but remember, it won’t move an 18-wheeler.

Imagine the impact natural gas could have in solving our energy problem. Targeting heavy-duty trucks and fleet vehicles — about 8.5 million in all — could cut our OPEC oil dependence in half in 10 years or less.

Fortunately, while we wait for Washington policymakers to lead, the move to replace more expensive, dirtier OPEC oil, diesel or gasoline with cheaper, cleaner domestic natural gas is gaining private-sector support. At an event in Chicago last week, two leaders in the natural gas vehicle industry — Navistar and Clean Energy Fuels — announced a plan to aggressively develop a comprehensive system to build natural-gas truck engines and provide the infrastructure to fuel them.

Over-the-road trucks tend to run the same routes on the same schedule. Drivers stop in the same places to rest, eat and refuel. Putting natural-gas refueling stations along the major travel routes is a relatively minor logistical issue. Building natural-gas engines for those trucks will be a major job creator.

The fact that OPEC isn’t a “free market” does not allow one to conclude that the U.S. should further distort markets without further argumentation, which Pickens does not provide, deciding to go the “national security” route that so many arguments deviate towards when they run out of good points.

The primary way in which OPEC could “harm” America is by colluding to keep prices higher. However, higher oil prices help to make the use of natural gas for transportation more appealing. Because this hasn’t been adopted on a wide scale, its clear that the economic harm from relying on oil imports should be less than switching to natural gas in situations where it doesn’t make sense.

However, as Pickens notes, it does make sense in many situations because natural gas is quite cheap. But rather than praise companies for their patriotism or whatever nonsense he’s referring to, the companies are making this decision because its a profitable one.

Pickens will continue to push his “plan,” and politicians will continue to listen because when you are willing to shower politicians with millions of dollars, their ears instinctively perk up. Here is Pickens on CNBC hoping for higher natural gas prices, so wind power is profitable again.

jes February 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

HOW CAN A GLOBAL WARMING ENTHUSIAST (OF THE GREEN RACE) BLOG (IN ANY WAY OR DIRECTION) AGAINST NAT GAS. IT’S CLEAN & INEXPENSIVE YOU FOOL. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. EVERYONE’S ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION BUT NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO BE WRONG IN THEIR FACTS. SHUT – UP!

jes February 7, 2012 at 8:11 am

1. NAT GAS WILL SAVE OUR ECONOMY

2. SUBSIDIES WILL SAVE IT FASTER.

mikep February 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Washington has already passed on this deal, it’s too risky for them – they would rather another generation handle it.

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