You would think that a man who made several fortunes in the oil business would forever sing the praises of black gold.
And yet, T. Boone Pickens has mounted a national campaign to convince the United States to get over its oil addiction and get gas naturally.
The gazillionaire founder and chairman of BP Capital Management, and an uncannily successful energy speculator, has laid out a plan for cutting our dependence on foreign oil. The Pickens Plan — described at www.pickensplan.com — is quite simple.
It calls for us as a nation to push the next administration and Congress to develop wind power to the point of meeting 20 percent of our massive electrical demand. That wind power would replace most of the 22 percent now supplied by natural gas to free up the gas for a job for which it is better suited — powering our automobiles.
The good old mid-section of the U.S. has the best wind potential in the world, Boone says. Developing wind power would revive rural communities, reduce foreign oil imports and give us less reason to send troops to the Middle East.
Natural gas would power our cars more cleanly and efficiently and more of it would come from within our shores.
Pickens reduces it to this bottom line. We use 25 percent of the world's oil and we are four percent of its population. China and India are starting to ask for their share. Something has to give.
He has launched an all-out campaign on this, buying TV time and making use of YouTube, Facebook, robo-calling and an anachronistic streaming video featuring old Boone himself drawing arrows and pie charts on a dry-erase board and describing his plan in an Oklahoma drawl.
You can find experts who say Pickens is right. You can find experts who say he has overestimated the potential for wind and disregarded the other needs for natural gas.
I encountered another voice recently who made a compelling argument for the Pickens Plan.
You would think a guy who makes his living marketing ethanol would trumpet it as the end-all solution to the energy crisis.
And yet, Jay Stoflet, director of retail marketing for the Renew ethanol stations, told a small audience at the Green Living Fair at Oshkosh's Sunnyview Expo Center last month that ethanol is only a partial solution.
"For the long-term future, we support the concept of fuel diversification," he said.
Hybrids, electric cars, hydrogen and biodiesel will all be part of the answer, but Stoflet identified one of the best and nearest replacements for gasoline as compressed natural gas.
The big downside is that you can't buy it. The only places locally that pump CNG for vehicles are for private corporate fleets.
Stoflet described a not-so-distant day when we will have pumps that compress natural gas from our home supply line and deliver it into the tanks of our cars. Honda is offering it on its Civic GX through a company called FuelMaker.
Stoflet said he whole-heartedly supports the concept of increasing the use of wind power and freeing up natural gas for powering vehicles.
"I think it's one good plan," he said, though we need multiple answers rather than "another monopolistic source of fuel."
Pickens sees it coming soon.
"This can all be accomplished in 10 years, but we have to have the right leadership," Pickens says in his video. He doesn't say which candidate that is, only that we should make the candidates address the issue.
Pickens has solid credentials as a philanthropist, though one suspects he has well-positioned investments that will do all right if this comes together. Still, he's out there addressing the issue, which distinguishes him from most of Washington.
So raise that right hand and take the Pickens Pledge:
"I join with T. Boone Pickens and his army of supporters in calling for an Energy Independence Plan to be enacted within the first 100 days of the new administration."