IDEAS #82 THROUGH #100 – SOME FOR NOW, SOME FOR THE FUTURE. Ok, I’m taking a bit of a shortcut here. Some of the ideas set forth below can be undertaken immediately, and others will only take place in the future. Some of the ideas below will require technical expertise, others will require public speaking skills, but some will simply require resolve and commitment.
SO HERE ARE THESE ADDITIONAL IDEAS – CONTAINED IN A “Q & A FORMAT” in which I add my own perspective on the future of the Pickens Plan:
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR "THE PICKENS PLAN"? I am often asked why we – all of us - are creating "Boone's Army," and what we can do now. From what I know, everyone can expect a continued "roll out" of "The Pickens Plan" in the weeks ahead, and video updates from T. Boone Pickens himself periodically. There are significant efforts underway to provide members with more materials and promotional items which can be utilized to spread the word.
I am just a volunteer and member of the Pickens Plan, and I am not connected with the PickensPlan organization in any formal way. But I'll share with you my own "vision" about the future, and attempt to provide my own response to a few frequently asked questions.
WHAT'S THE PURPOSE OF THE ARMY? While some purposes are now known, others can only be guessed at. Let me share with you what I foresee at this time, as this organization continues to come together.
1. NEEDED - THE DEVELOPMENT OF POSITIONS ON FEDERAL PUBLIC POLICY, AND A CONCERTED EFFORT TO IMPLEMENT THAT PUBLIC POLICY DURING THE FIRST 100 DAYS OF THE NEXT ADMINISTRATION. There are numerous public policy decisions which Congress and the next President must undertake in the near future, in order to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil. These will involve tax credits to spur investment in alternative energy policies, decisions on possible conservation measures, decisions on permitted locations of oil drilling, federal initiatives to support the development of electric transmission infrastructure, etc. The details of these policy initiatives require further formulation. And, once all of the policies are formulated, a concerted lobbying effort will be required by all members of Boone's Army.
That is not to say that there are not things that can be done now. Indeed, some action will be needed by Congress this fall - but it will probably be of a temporary nature. The Salt Lake Tribune summarized this aspect of tax legislation as follows: "A production tax credit for wind and solar power plants, and investment tax credits for homeowners and businesses that install solar power systems, expire at the end of the year. Congress has debated a long-term extension since last December, but can't agree on how to offset the cost under 'pay-as-you-go' budget rules. Failure to act would take the wind out the rapidly expanding wind-power industry and cast a cloud over a solar-power industry that's just starting to heat up. Renewable energy industries, until they achieve scale, need a sustained government commitment to assure a return on investments in today's volatile energy market. In the past, on-again-off-again tax credits have resulted in boom-and-bust cycles. But the current three-year tax credit program, which offers 1.9 cents for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced for the next decade, has resulted in a clean-and-green power surge."
It is unlikely that Congress will enact the needed long-term tax policy to spur on investment in alternative energy technologies until after the election, and probably next year. Hence, it is important for The Pickens Plan to foster the development of desired tax policy (and other federal policy initiatives), to be ready to influence our newly elected (or re-elected) Congress later this year and into next year.
2. "IS THE PICKENS PLAN LIMITED TO WIND ENERGY AND NATURAL GAS VEHICLES?" Not at all. The Pickens Plan has these as its two major components, but these have always been seen as more easily deployed technologies that serve as a bridge to the future. Solar energy is a huge opportunity out there, especially when newly announced technologies from MIT and other institutions and firms lower the cost of same - likely very soon. Conservation measures, both short-term and long-term, must be part of the overall plan. Geothermal, wave energy, and many other technologies need to be explored as well. Electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, hydrogen-powered vehicles, and increased public transportation are all part of the future as well. There is no single answer to solving our nation's over-reliance on foreign oil. We should support all of these emerging technologies to some degree, and adopt public policies which foster the rapid deployment of those technologies which are ready to deploy.
3. "IS THE PICKENS PLAN SELF-SERVING." One of the things which is truly inspirational is an old oilman stating that "We can't drill our way out of this problem." This is not to say that T. Boone Pickens and his companies, which invest heavily in natural gas and are making new investments in wind farms, will not benefit. But I, for one, believe that this 80-year old man is a true American, has altruistic motives, and that he is putting millions and millions of dollars behind building this army for the good of America, primarily.
This nation faces several major long-term challenges. The first of these is large, ongoing trade deficits. Most of the United States' trade deficit is due to oil imports (at today's prices). As T. Boone Pickens has stated, we simply cannot export $700 billion of wealth from our country overseas each year, and survive as a country. Every economist's view I have read agrees - no society can prosper with huge, ongoing trade deficits of the size we are seeing now. Other problems include federal budget deficits, the lack of personal savings, and the lack of investment in U.S. infrastructure and jobs. The Pickens Plan may well aid in aiding in the resolution of some of these problems, as well.
4. WHY NOT BETTER "ORGANIZATION" AT THIS TIME? It will come. It has only been 10 days or so since the Pickens Plan was launched, and all reports indicate that the outpouring of response, including media requests, has kept the Pickens Plan formal organization plenty busy. Be a little patient, and things will come together. Forming a nationwide organization like this takes a little time, and sometimes a false step or two. It's a bit like making sausage - not very pretty to see how it is made, but mix it up well and cook it, and it sure comes out sweet and tasty! Just be a bit patient, please.
5. WHAT CAN I DO NOW? I urge you to explore the PickensPlan site, beginning with various "guides" and "bulletins" posted in the "Featured Forum" started by the "Communications Support" group. Many times you'll come across negative comments ... just ignore that, and look for ways to contribute. And keep coming back to the PickensPlan.com site, to check out even more ways formulated for you to contribute your time, expertise, and effort.
6. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF THE ORGANIZATION LOOK LIKE? To be honest, I have no clue. But I do have a few ideas. Before I set these forth, let me emphasize that the "new media" of social networking, etc., must be permitted to blossom and reach its full potential, as applied to The Pickens Plan. It is important that any "organizations" which are formed be supportive of, and supported by, the many ways that people now communicate with each other and unite to achieve a common cause. Having said that, I can envision some "formal" structures in the future, as follows:
(a) Non-Profit Charitable Foundation To Explore Alternative Energy Sources, and Provide Education. Imagine a 501(c)(3) foundation which has as its aim the fostering of the best technologies which exist out there through education. Assisting with the formulation of public policy initiatives would also be undertaken, up to the limits imposed by tax law. (It is a common misconception that charities cannot undertake political activities; actually there are many types of "public policy" issues that can be addressed by charitable organizations, and there are monetary limits on other types of "political" activities a charity can support.
This charitable organization (or another organization) could also support numerous committees, such as:
(1) Committee For Review of All Energy Technologies. To gather research and information about all existing and emerging technologies, objectively evaluate them, and publish comparative analyses of their likely costs and benefits. In reality, there may be several sub-committees under this committee, each constantly reviewing the developments in a particular field. This will require a lot of assistance - from those who know and understand technology, and from those who can help weigh the potential costs and benefits.
Each subcommittee could tackle a specific topic. Perhaps the papers are written in “wiki” format, as a collaborative effort. Someone (with a technical background in each area) would be needed to monitor and guide the wiki-type formulation of the topic. Here's a number of ideas for technical papers which might be developed:
......a. Distribution of generated electrical power - what transmission infrastructure will need to be built?
......b. What technological innovations are "at the cusp" of being ready for deployment - i.e., possible within a few years?
......c. Storage technologies - battery technology, compressed air, etc.
......d. Application of technology to support large power generation facilities;
......e. Application of technology to industrial applications and large facilities;
......f. Application of technology to office buildings (large and small), and other commercial facilities;
......g. Application of technology to homes / residences / apartment buildings (both existing and new).
......h. Other aspects of energy conservation (not just energy production);
......i. Carbon sequestration;
......j. Comparison paper - the "real costs" of different energy sources;
......k. The current state of technology (i.e., what can be deployed now) for each alternative energy source, and/or a cost/benefit comparison analysis of each alternative energy source; and
......l. Many more (I’m not an expert in any of these technologies, so those who are will need to take the lead in identifying other topics).
By the way, if you want to see a credible effort to distill some of the information on solar energy / wind energy / etc., just check out Wikipedia.com as well as www.peswiki.com. A more focused (and perhaps more detailed and up-to-date) version of these wiki efforts could be employed, either at those sites or through "wikis" developed on PickensPlan.com.
(2) Committee for the Development of National Public Policy Initatives. The formulation of policies we would like Congress and the President to pursue.
(3) Committee for the Development of State Public Policy Initiatives. The formulation of policies we would like to see state governments, and larger regional areas, to pursue. For example, state legislation and rules on "buy-backs" of produced energy by power companies.
(4) Committee for the Development and Support of Local Policy Initiatives. The formulation of policies we would like to see local governments pursue - perhaps even supporting local governments to evaluate "town-specific" or "area-specific" local installations of wind turbines, solar thermal plants, etc.
(5) Committee for Support of Non-Profit and Governmental Projects. Some local areas already have experience with wind turbines and/or solar energy or other alternative energy projects. A "master plan" for how to create local projects, secure financing, etc., can be explored. I am intrigued by the possibility of issuing municipal bonds to finance such installations, if the right long-term public policies are adopted at the national and state levels to facilitate greater likelihood of sustainable revenue from wind power, solar energy, and other installations which connect to the power grid.
(6) Committee for Conservation Initiatives. We need "green homes," "green offices," and many more policies to be adopted to encourage less use of energy (and less consumption of goods which are produced by massive amounts of energy). There should be a committee that focuses on these aspects, and then works with the public policy committees and educational committees.
(7) Committee for Educational Support. Support educational efforts at graduate, collegiate undergraduate, secondary, and primary schools, and through civic groups and other organizations nationwide. Provide the necessary PowerPoint presentations, educational tools, reading materials, charts, graphs, videos, etc. to foster such educational efforts.
(8) Committee for Investment by Industry. Government and not-for-profit companies cannot solve this crisis alone. Indeed, with the right long-term public policies adopted, we can foster industry to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the infrastructure needed to transform America's over-reliance on foreign energy to a reliance on our own wind, solar and other resources. The oil industry is not our enemy. Rather, with its billions and billions and billions of profits, it could be this movement's greatest ally in investing in "green" technologies. But it will take a lot of encouragement - not only public policy initiatives, but also shareholder petitions and perhaps a bit of pressure by "Boone's Army."
(9) International Activities Support Group. What can be done to spread components of the “Pickens Plan” internationally? (If other countries reduce their need for oil consumption, then this benefits everyone.) Is this a group to be launched later (i.e., let’s get things going in the U.S. first)? Would the group seek to encourage other individuals in other countries to form similar grass-roots efforts? Would this group seek to influence discussions at various international bodies, such as United Nations, WTO, The World Bank, etc.?
(b) Political Action Committee (PAC). To make a difference on Capital Hill will require a huge number of voices - hence, the need for Pickens' Army. It may also require some targeted contributions. The formation of a PAC will likely be needed.
(c) Outreach to Similar Organizations and Efforts. While the Pickens Plan and its influence can be tremendous, large efforts will need to be made in reaching out to the many existing groups of a non-profit nature (and PACs, and for-profit industry organizations) where there exist commonality of interests.
(d) For-Profit Entities To Invest or Partner On Projects? There is also the possibility of Boone's Army seeking to invest in for-profit business entities. A word of caution as to new business entities - compliance with federal and state securities laws is a complex endeavor, if you desire to raise capital in the public markets. And a word of caution to individual investors - always seek legal, tax, and/or financial advice before giving your money to an investment in any company. Having said that, it is possible that the Pickens Plan members will seek to band together to invest in existing and/or new companies which hold the greatest promise for helping to achieve the Pickens Plan's goals.
IN CONCLUSION. These and other organizational ideas are being considered. The Pickens Plan will spawn other ideas, as well. All of this will take a sustained effort, which evokes the need for formal organizations and ongoing permanent staff, aided by volunteers. I want to stress, however, that any formal organization must take only a supporting role toward all of the volunteers. Indeed, so much creative energy and passion exists on PickensPlan.com now, and any formalization of the organization must never endanger these attributes, only support them.
Finally, a lot of these efforts are underway now. Just look at the various "Groups" and "Forums" where actual work is going on in many of these areas. Yes, it may look ugly for a bit. But then Edy's ice cream is not all that pleasant, if you just take a whiff of some of the isolated ingredients before they are mixed.
I hope this answers some of the questions you may possess. The future is indeed bright. Let us all help each other. Let us each reach out to another member and help them out. Let us move forward, perhaps in different directions at times, but all with the same common goal.
Thank you to all who have contributed so much, so fast. Keep up the effort, and we will ALL succeed. - Ron