The University of Alabama Crimson White
Last Monday evening, entrepreneur and alternative energy proponent T. Boone Pickens visited Tuscaloosa to promote his alternative energy movement. The “Pickens Plan” is a coordinated, comprehensive plan to use natural gas to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, especially the oil we buy from OPEC.
The major thrust of Pickens Plan is to convert our commercial transport from diesel fuel to natural gas. The U.S.A. has 98 percent of the world’s resources in natural gas, which is also a clean burning fuel.
Mr. Pickens also wants to use the “Wind Corridor” that stretches northward from Texas through the Great Plains for a wind farm. This would require subsidies from the federal government, which is already deeply in debt. The environmentalists may not fully support this plan, as it will require disturbing local wildlife. However, it does provide an alternative source of energy and much needed jobs for our citizens
While not a permanent solution to our energy crisis, the Pickens Plan will definitely help the U.S. to rely less on foreign oil and will help reduce the large trade deficit that the purchase of foreign oil is partially responsible for. The cost savings will give us the time to develop new alternative energies and allow us to restore our competitive edge.
For engineering students at the University, whether they agree with Pickens Plan or not, this movement will open up many new opportunities in a struggling job market. Areas of development Americans never dreamed would exist will begin to emerge, and this next generation of scientists and engineers will be in a perfect position to guide the process and play a key role in shaping our country.
As new challenges arise pertaining to alternative energy sources, they will be required to use creativity and problem solving skills to create sustainable energy systems. Their opinions and expertise will be invaluable in allocating investment resources and creating new technology. Because future obstacles cannot be predicted, it is important that students not just be taught the basics of their disciplines, but must also be taught how to analyze and apply critical thinking skills which will aide them as they begin to exert influence on the world.
Through movements like Pickens’, America is beginning a new stage of development that leaves an infinite number of opportunities open for exploration by graduating students.
Chelsea Lucas is a freshman majoring in chemical engineering.