T. Boone Pickens On Our Energy Future

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, T. Boone Pickens, oil and gas executive , discusses the Pickens Plan and the promise of natural gas.

While a candidate, President Obama promised as part of his campaign to end US dependence on oil from the Middle East within ten years. Three years later the country remains dependent while unrest in the Middle East is pushing up both the price of gas and a general economic anxiety among many Americans.

T. Bone Pickens — oil billionaire, philanthropist, former political donor — has made the issue of energy independence his own. Pickens recently released his Pickens Plan to reduce oil dependence, mostly through dramatically increasing domestic drilling for natural gas. The Pickens Plan featured goals such as generating twenty-two percent of the country's energy from wind power, promoting natural gas, and encouraging people to make their homes and businesses more energy-efficient. The energy magnate said his plan has now become a House bill and is gaining momentum.

We’ve seen a great amount of progress but not enough. We got the bill entered on April 6th, and we have 178 co-sponsors. It’s House Bill 1380, and it was entered by [Rep. Kevin] Brady, a Republican, [Rep. John] Sullivan, a Republican, [Rep. Dan] Boren and [Rep. John] Larson, Democrats, and it’s gotten great interest and I’m confident the bill will pass, because it’s the first step to get us off of just exactly what the president said he was going to do, get off of oil from the Middle East.“

Powering the Nation's Roads

The natural gas bill calls for a billion dollars a year in tax incentives for five years for natural gas development, which Pickens explained was a subsidy to offset the costs of switching over trucks from diesel to natural gas.   The incentive, a tax credit, would sunset after five years.

You have to replace OPEC oil, or Mid East oil, with something. And the only thing we’ve got to replace it with is more oil in America, which our oil companies have been doing a good job of finding… but they cannot replace the five million that he’s talking about. That’s five million barrels out of thirteen we import everyday comes from the Mid East.  And that’s what he wants wiped out, that’s what I want wiped out. And the only resource we have that can take it out is natural gas.

The Suadi Arabia of Natural Gas

The US has been called the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Pickens said in terms of barrels-of-oil equivalents, the US has 300 billion barrels, exceeding the amount of oil in Saudi Arabia. Currently the most pressing goal of alternative energy is to find an alternative for powering the nation's transportation needs. Pickens thinks that there is no reason that natural gas cannot move beyond just house heating and meet that transportation need. Trucks that now run on diesel would run on natural gas, Pickens said, pointing to California, where trash trucks were already converted to natural gas in order to address pollution problems. One diesel truck off the road, according to Pickens, provides the same air quality results as removing 325 cars, while converting from diesel to natural gas cost an incremental difference of $50,000.

That is exactly the same model I want to do on the eight million eighteen-wheelers in the United States. Don’t worry about the infrastructure, that’s a way for people to make money and hire people and everything else, so that’ll happen just naturally.

Though Pickens’ plan had originally called for substantial increases in wind energy, it has since been modified and the wind-energy component greatly reduced. Pickens defended the move toward continued reliance on fossil fuels by stating that wind would never replace oil. 

A battery will not move an eighteen-wheeler. But that energy is good, from the wind, and I’m in for wind projects now. So I didn’t abandon it... Wind is going to be a factor at some point, but it won’t replace transportation fuel.

Natural Gas and New York

Two recent studies on the process of natural gas extraction called hydro-fracturing, or fracking, found the process may have environmentally disastrous results with severe ramifications for public health. Carcinogens such as benzene, used in fracking, are at levels nearly one hundred times higher than those currently found in diesel. Pickens is unconcerned. He pointed to decades of fracking done in Oklahoma and Texas without catastrophic results, but said he does think that the companies doing fracking should disclose what chemicals they use. Still he dismissed concerns about the danger. Regarding the controversy over fracking here in New York, Pickens said if Governor Andrew Cuomo is uncomfortable with fracking it is right for New York to proceed carefully.

New York, bless your heart, it has so much to do with America and all, but not much to do with the gas business. You don’t have one-tenth of one percent of the natural gas in the United States, and so if you decide you’re not going to use it, well, so be it. But this is what I believe will happen, it may take you a little while, you’ll get comfortable with it. The hydrofracking will be acceptable and nobody will get hurt by it and it’ll go forward.

A study from Cornell University out this month found that the methane emissions from extracting natural gas from shale are higher than from oil, coal or conventional gas. The report suggests that natural gas may not be such an environmentally-benign alternative. Pickens agreed. “There’s no question that it’s a hydrocarbon, and a fossil fuel, nobody has tried to hide that.” But historically, he said, the California model still shows reduced emission.

Peak Natural Gas?

The cost of extraction for natural gas has been relatively low. Pickens has endorsed the peak-oil theory but doesn’t think peak natural gas is something the United States will need to worry about for a long time. 

You have four-thousand-trillion cubic feet of natural gas in America and that’s equivalent, barrels of oil equivalent, to twice what the Saudi’s have in oil. So that’s a hundred year supply, and maybe a two-hundred year supply. And I don’t see this as a final fuel…  it’ll be a bridge fuel to somewhere and where do you go? Probably, I’m more of a person that believes you’ll end up with a battery, is what it’ll be.  It’ll be a small battery and the technology will advance dramatically from where we are right now.

While Pickens admitted to be somewhat skeptical about climate change, he said that does not prevent him from addressing the possibility of global warming. 

I will say this, there’s a lot of stuff we’ve put up in the ozone over the last hundred years, and I would rather start to make moves from this point forward to where, if we made a mistake and if we are effecting the climate we will be making moves to offset that. I want to mitigate what has happened, if something has happened. I don’t want to find out twenty years from now that — hey, we should’ve done something because it really was true. So make the move now, and, if you’re wrong, don’t worry about it, you didn’t hurt yourself, you helped yourself.

Pickens believes firmly that the next decade will certainly see a shift toward domestic resources.

We’re going to go down in history as the dumbest crowd that ever came to town, if we don’t use our own resources. Our resources are cleaner, cheaper, abundant, and ours, and can you imagine that we’re using dirty oil from the enemy when we don’t have to?


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Comments [74]

Alice Zinnes from Park Slope

Thank you so much for the many good questions you posed to T. Boone Pickens last Thursday.

One inaccurate statement made by T. Boone unfortunately you were unable to refute: T. Boone stated that Cornell Professors Robert Howarth and Tony Ingraffea, and their recently published greenhouse gas study are biased. Your response seemed to suggest that perhaps they are. However, the study in fact was funded approx. 95% by Cornell and 5%. by the Park Foundation. To quote from their website, "The Park Foundation primarily supports scholarships in higher education, quality media that heightens public awareness of critical issues, and protection of the environment."

It is important that New Yorkers understand the facts, and understand what Prof. Howarth's study determined, how it was funded, and what its findings might mean for policy decisions. Please invite Prof. Howarth as a guest on your show so that he can clarify his funding sources, and explain his findings about comparative fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions.

May. 01 2011 08:57 PM
Pittsburgh Water -- mmm

Jim Monyak -- so all of America is supposed to tolerate another few decades of fossil fuel dependency, until it is all tapped out, so that you can cash out? Nah....

(Jim Monyak's website:)

Let's take the $28 million Pickens is begging from the government and set up a brain trust around batteries that can hold enough wind/solar energy to power up those 18 wheelers...

Maybe it's cuz I'm younger than you but I would rather do without a bunch of trucked in crap from Walmart if it means a few million fewer gallons of diesel in the Susquehanna. You can't drink money, man! However, I will admit the money and your acreage is a powerful incentive, I can't blame you for trying this tack.

Apr. 30 2011 09:23 PM
Pittsburgh Water -- mmm

Jim Monyak -- so all of America is supposed to tolerate another few decades of fossil fuel dependency, until it is all tapped out, so you can cash out? Nah....

(Jim Monyak's website:)

Let's take the $28 million Pickens is begging from the government and set up a brain trust around batteries that can hold enough wind/solar energy to power up those 18 wheelers...

Maybe it's cuz I'm younger than you but I would rather do without a bunch of trucked in crap from Walmart if it means a few million fewer gallons of diesel in the Susquehanna. You can't drink water, man! However, I will admit the money and your acreage is a powerful incentive, I can't blame you for trying this tack.

Apr. 30 2011 09:21 PM
James Monyak from Pittsburgh PA - US Leader NG

We at Advance Royalty Solutions, LLC
support NG as our stop gap energy source. Wind and fuel cells are the future, but we must live in the now when we are at the gas station filling our tanks!

Natural Gas is the answer.

Apr. 30 2011 04:04 PM
ray from red bank nj

i dont know if anyone mentioned this in an earlier post, but there is a MAJOR difference between a vertical and horizontal gas well. A vertical well is basically what it sounds like, a well with one line going down into the earth. However, a horizontal fracking well srtarts with one point above ground and expands horizontally undeground over a large area of land, as many as sixteen horizontal lines can go in one direction. The natural gas industry favors this kind of well because much more natural gas can be extracted from "one" well. The industry claims that it can mathmatically calculate how the shale will react when the fracking liquid is rammed, under extremely high pressure, into the shale rock thereby insuring(sp?) that ground water does not get contaminated (one of the concerns of hydrofracking). Due to the nature of the fracking liquid, the density of the shale rock, the amount of horizontal lines within a given area, and numerous other variables, this is impossible and it has been proven so in the instance of an area in Pennsylvania that has undergone this type of fracking process that now has contaminated drinking water.

Apr. 28 2011 03:58 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

hjs1121 - the u.s. military is the country's largest, socialized program (and one that consumes outsized amounts of natural and fiscal resources), and so is anyone advocating subsidies for the current fossil fuels industry. so what's your point?

Apr. 28 2011 03:19 PM

dboy from nyc
you don't know what u are talking about jesus was a socialist

Apr. 28 2011 03:09 PM
Steve from Barryville, NY

Knowing the facts about fracking, and having scanned the comments here, I'm not even going to bother listening to the segment, as I know how utterly disappointed and enraged I will feel afterward. As much as many of us look to this show for an honest and thorough examination of the issues, the fact that they would give this huckster an open platform to spout his self-serving propaganda has to make us reconsider our expectations. And let's face it, although his heart seems to be in the right place, Brian is just not that fearless, hard-hitting journalist we wish, and need, him to be. Fortunately, the truth about shale gas drilling is working it's way into the mainstream media, in spite of capitulations like this, and as it gets into the public consciousness, the opposition to it will only grow.

Apr. 28 2011 01:52 PM
Margery from Remsenburg, Ny

It is important to consider the entire picture from before drilling to the final deliver of natural gas. There are externalities of costs which others not involved in the direct transaction bear costs and environmental burdens. The total Environmental Impact Analysis must be made to quantify the true total costs of such unconventional drilling. It has been reported that the destruction of the infrastructure due to drilling for natural gas in Arkansas has been almost $400 million, but the severance tax has brought in only $40 million. The Arkansas taxpayer now must make up the difference to the tune of almost $360 million.

Moreover, Mr. Pickens did not mention that there is another fuel that is completely environmentally friendly for large commercial trucks and that is the use of hydrogen. The supply of that is readily available. Professor Daniel Nocera of MIT has done studies of generating hydrogen by using solar power.

Moreover, as reported by CNET “A study by Scientists from Stanford University and the University of California at Davis have crunched the numbers and come up with a plan for how the world might economically and feasibly make the move to renewable energy in the next 20 to 40 years.” This study points out that we can power our jets by hydrogen; to that I add that perhaps we could power our large commercial haulers by this fuel as well. This study states that renewable energy is here but it is the politics that is holding us back. In our near and intermediate future, we do not need foreign imported oil nor do we need to turn the landscape that feeds us into an industrial sites by drilling for Natural Gas. We do have viable alternatives that will meet our needs in this time frame.

Apr. 28 2011 11:14 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

bravo, brian--you just provided pickens some free, unchallenged promotion for his faulty campaign to promote both natural gas as "energy independence" and the privatisation of water, as well. clearly he made his appearance provisional, and you so brilliantly agreed.

why bother hosting a guest whose work ruffles the sentiments of the region your broadcast influences most (and will devastate it most) without providing that region opportunity to challenge or provide feedback in real time.

this isn't broadcast--it's opportunistic promotion. congratulations on selling yourself, not to mention new yorkers, short, brian!

Apr. 28 2011 11:02 AM

I was just wondering whether I wish that interview hadn't been aired, to have deprived Pickens that chance to toy with Brian so disrespectfully and effortlessly. But this comment page is a burst of wisdom and story ideas for enterprising scribes and, in the end, a worthy document in its own right.

Apr. 28 2011 10:58 AM
James Barth from Beach Lake, PA

During the interview, Mr. Pickens declared that the only difference between the frac'ing he says he has performed thousands of times in the past, and horizontal, shale hydro-frac'ing, is that the process has moved from TX to PA. How can Mr. Pickens, in good conscience, equate the vertcial, shallow, gas and oil wells that were drilled and hydraulically fractured during the 20th century, to the horizontally drilled shale wells that are multi-stage, hydraulically fractured now, when this new process was only introduced in 2002? A horizontal, shale well that is drilled with a 5,000 foot lateral, uses a minimum of 5 million gallons of water, and sand, mixed with between 25,000 gallons, and 100,000 gallons of toxic, carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting chemicals, as opposed to the old process that Mr. Pickens compares, which used up to 75,000 gallons of water. The new process is an increased factor of 67 times the amount. The pressure used to fracture is also hugely greater, up to 15,000 psi. It is similar to comparing the Wright Brothers first flight over a few hundred feet at 35 mph, with a jet plane that travels at a speed of 2,345 mph, or equating the sum of $75,000 to more than five million dollars. Why do Mr. Pickens, along with lobbying groups such as Energy in Depth, and the Marcellus Shale Coalition, continue to put forth this false analogy?

(The figure for the chemical additives comes from the June, 2009 testimony before Congress, given by the Ground Water Protection Council. The GWPC is legitimately identified as an industry group. The testimony described the use of chemical additives as being "less than 2%". The industry likes to say the minimum part of the range, which they describe as one half of one percent. The figures I gave, 25,000 gallons to 100,000 gallons of chemicals, reflect that range used on a fractured, 5,000 foot lateral hole).

Apr. 28 2011 10:47 AM
dboy from nyc

The oil companies, insurance companies, the GOP and Jesus.

Hard to tell 'em all apart!

Apr. 28 2011 10:47 AM
Ed from Red Bank

Mr. Pickens says that nuclear power plants should be built inland and away from fault lines. Well, right now we are experiencing record strength tornadoes around the country. Nuclear power plants are vunerable to a variety of calamities wherever they are built. So just don't build them.

Apr. 28 2011 10:44 AM

Brian, the way you always ask politicians 2 or 3 questions that go deeper and are the result of some legwork on your show's part, talking w experts, etc. to develop truly insightful, challenging questions -- just my 2 cents but it would be great to see that Brian Lehrer Show signature applied to "business men" as well. They are not to be feared -- and what they do is as simpler than you and your young producers might imagine!

Apr. 28 2011 10:42 AM
Simonde from NY

Dear Brian:
When a corporate honcho like Pickens patronizingly chuckles when you ask him mildly about the dangers of hydrofracking and the mass opposition to it (as he did twice), you might want to start thinking about doing your homework on this issue. Chuckling should actually not be considered an answer to a radio journalist's questions. And playing, dumb, as Pickens did about virtually every fact of hydrofracking that you brought up, should not be accepted. But this really begs the most important question: why would you have this guy on the show, someone with vested political and economic interests in hydrofracking, and not have done REALLY THOROUGH research on the dangers of the process? There are incontrovertible, documented facts of the dangers of this process to human health, drinking water, the food chain, etc. Had you done your homework, Brian, you might have been able to counter Pickens's lies about complaints coming out of Texas, for example. There are so many groups out there that have formed to challenge hydro-fracking, and these groups grew out of despair and illness, not out of political ideology.

Apr. 28 2011 10:42 AM
AZ from ny

The truth of the matter, is people are being taken advantage of by corporate greed, and wall street swindlers. When are people going to realize that there is a corporate monopoly in every part of american life, enslaving this nation, and now trying to enslave the world. Oil and gas prices are back at 2008 reacords which caused this recession. At $4 a gallon people can't pay there mortgage,bills, or feed their families, while these greedy republicans collect huge dividends, and profits. People are going to be fooled and vote against the democratic party, because they are not happy with the lives they are living. Since the republicans took back the house of reps. Gas prices have been on a constent rise to remove the president from office before the middle east excuse they give us. President Obama should release the oil reserves, to protect americans from this abuse by the oil companies.

Apr. 28 2011 10:41 AM
Richard Hokin

Intangible drilling costs (ITC) are capital expenses associated with oil and gas development that are treated as current expenses rather than being capitalized and written off over time. This is the principal federal "subsidy" to the industry and as long as a company continues to develop oil and gas it defers its income tax liability, so the subsidy is effectively an interest free loan from the Treasury that becomes payable if the company ceases drilling or enters into certain transactions.

Apr. 28 2011 10:36 AM
Marissa from Manhattan


Apr. 28 2011 10:36 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

Yeah when I was 12 I shoveled snow and cut lawns, I am now 48 but could not hire a young kid to do that now without the fear of being sued or IRS interferance

Apr. 28 2011 10:35 AM
Derek from Seaford

How do the subsidies factor into the profits of oil companies?

Apr. 28 2011 10:34 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

OPEC, and mainly Saudi Arabia, sets the amount of available oil to the world, and hence determines the final price. Most of Europe, Israel and most countries are now paying around $8 a gallon for gasoline at the pump. WE are still paying only half the price that Europeans, Israelis and most others are paying. Price usually depends on supply. Occasionally speculators drive up the price, but such bubbles quickly burst. Basically, price is mainly a function of supply. And OPEC mainly determines supply.

Apr. 28 2011 10:34 AM
dboy from nyc

Price gouging...??? The oil companies...???

Ah, HA, HA, HA... HA!!!

I've never heard of such a preposterous notion...

I can't believe someone could actually say such a thing!!

Apr. 28 2011 10:34 AM
Kris Enos from East Village, NYC

Hey Brian,
Why don't we ask your guest why we don't use more trains for transport instead of 18 wheeler trucks!
Also I wish this T. Bone would see the Oscar nominated doc movie "Gas Land". A few Times!! There was a demonstration in Fort Worth, Texas against fracking the other day.

Apr. 28 2011 10:32 AM

Please ask Mr. Pickens about the recent Robert Howarth (Cornell University) peer reviewed study which shows, unequivocally, that when the entire extraction cycle of shale gas is considered, the greenhouse gases released make it more damaging than coal.
So called "natural gas" is naturally occurring, but the new drilling technology is anything but natural. It is violent, tremendously polluting, and may succeed in ruining our drinking water. After that, Mr. P. can make lots of money by selling us water!

Apr. 28 2011 10:32 AM
Robert from NYC

lol, see he had a perfect life. Besides he's a billionaire now and he doesn't feel the current depression cum recession. lol

Apr. 28 2011 10:32 AM
Graham Walker from Bronx

As to Oil Shale; oil shale will ALWAYS be worse vis-a-vis global warming because it is the same product at the end of the day (OIL) plus you need tremendous amounts of heat to extract the oil from the shale (you don't just stick a pipe into the ground - ok slight over simplification). So don't just toss of the researchers analysis because he might support the idea of global warming (MOST ENGINEERS AND SCIENTISTS DO ACKNOWLEDGE GLOBAL WARMING AS AN ISSUE!)

Apr. 28 2011 10:31 AM

like a smarter bush.

Apr. 28 2011 10:31 AM
Marissa from Manhattan

I would be an idiot if I believed a word Pickens is saying.

Apr. 28 2011 10:30 AM

Dude, you need water for nuclear power. That's why there's no nuclear power plants in the midwest. Yea, it's Japan's fault for building on a fault. They just weren't thinking straight. Unlike you...

Apr. 28 2011 10:30 AM

Oil companies benefit from higher oil prices, because they have direct control over oil fields themselves, all over the world.

They are not simply brokers. How about doing some research for a change, before giving a guy like Pickens a mic?

Apr. 28 2011 10:30 AM
Robert from NYC

Why are you so timid toward him Brian? The guy made all his billions from oil, his whole life has been in oil, he's probably oily to the touch. Of course the companies are oil gouging. Will he who makes all his money off oil admit to that! Stop wasting NPR contributors' money with these guests. We know where they stand and what and how they think so why put listeners thru this nonsense?

Apr. 28 2011 10:30 AM

this guy has strange ideas.
the customer sets the price of oil. as long as u pay $5 per gallon for gas someone will sell it for $5. if we only will pay $4 per gallon that would be the price.

Apr. 28 2011 10:29 AM
GRF from NY

Challenge Pickens and do not let him say "domestic fuel" is all right. We must cut all fossil fuel usage a great great amount and use renewable energy now. He obviously has a dog in this fight.

Apr. 28 2011 10:29 AM
Cliff from Highland Park, NJ

Pickens claimed that nobody complained about hydraulic fracturing before shale gas came to Pennsylvania. Not true -- ask Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of DISH, Texas, for example. Ask any of the Westerners profiled in GasLand. We might have been able to ask Chris Mobaldi had she not died of the rare pituitary tumors that many believe to have been caused by living near gas production.

Apr. 28 2011 10:27 AM

challenge him... oh, pickens can do this interview in his sleep...

Apr. 28 2011 10:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

America is sending over $300 billion a year overseas for oil imports. That is more than half the defense budget, including all the wars we are engaged in, which are partly due to protecting the oil assets in the ME. IF we can keep at least half that $300 billion inside the country, that will go a long way in reducing our overall growth in the national debt.

Apr. 28 2011 10:25 AM
Graham Walker

Natural gas is a GAS, oil is a LIQUID! Quantity is not what matters; energy content is what matters. How much energy (in joules) is there in the US natural gas reserves compared to the energy in the Saudi oil? Don't compare volume numbers.

Apr. 28 2011 10:25 AM

the US military protecting persian gulf shipping lanes is an oil subsidy

Apr. 28 2011 10:24 AM
marie from Brooklyn

and Robert F. Kennedy Jr of Riverkeeper and the NRDC appears in 'natural' gas ads to promote it as 'revolutionary'! (New Yorker, page 61, Feb. 11, 2009).

NRDC website:

"Finding the Balance
The Role of Natural Gas in America's Energy Future

Natural gas has an important role to play in America's energy future. Efficient use of natural gas -- the cleanest-burning of all fossil fuels -- in homes and businesses and for electricity generation can result in substantially lower emissions of global warming pollution than many alternatives. But this does not mean we need to drill for more natural gas in valuable wild places. Invading pristine places for natural gas that we can get elsewhere would be an irreparable and costly mistake. This October 2008 issue paper discusses how investments in efficiency cost less and can bring benefits to the market faster than trying to increase supplies through drilling. By reducing the demand for natural gas quickly, increased efficiency can bring down the price of gas and lower bills for the average consumer right away. This issue paper also provides recommendations for policy solutions that can provide short-term benefits and long-term energy solutions by incentivizing energy efficiency and supporting development of renewable energy sources."

And here's T Boone with Carl Pope, with both of them spewing the same lies:

Would be great to have real journalism ask the tough questions. That will take the grassroots being clear about which entities are key for us to challenge to stop facilitating 'safe drilling'.

Apr. 28 2011 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

America is sending over $300 billion a year overseas for oil imports. That is more than half the defense budget, including all the wars we are engaged in, which are partly due to protecting the oil assets in the ME. IF we can keep at least half that $300 billion inside the country, that will go a long way in reducing our overall growth in the national debt.

Apr. 28 2011 10:24 AM

That you're a geologist, notwithstanding, but why not spend the $5 billion -- along with the fossil fuel subsidies -- on making a battery that will move an 18 wheeler?

BRIAN -- ONE SUBSIDY IS DIRT CHEAP LEASES ON PUBLIC PROPERTIES! ANOTHER IS THEIR RIGHTS TO LAY PIPE ON PROPERTY THEY HAVEN'T EVEN LEASED (near roads, for example)! This guy is trying to irritate knowledgeable listeners and you're not biting.

Apr. 28 2011 10:23 AM

natural gas is not that clean and won't help climate change

Apr. 28 2011 10:23 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Hey, Brian...thamks for admitting that you never bothered to check on who paid for that study.....though you admit hat the author was a "..dedicated opponent of the industry and possibly biased."

Wow, what integrity for you today, Brian...good thing Pickens made you make an effort to reluctantly tell us that.

Apr. 28 2011 10:22 AM
jmurphy from Long Island

any fuel obtained from the earth, either by digging it or growing it, is not sustainable for the long term - the earth cannot handle the demand of 7 billion people.

Solar and wind are the best options, especially solar. Our "energies" need to be toward more efficient, smaller solar panels. The sun is free, people.

Apr. 28 2011 10:21 AM
Mike from Hoboken

Has Pickens seen the film "Gasland"? Definitely worth a watch, tap water that burns...

Apr. 28 2011 10:20 AM

If America had an energy policy, we wouldn't care what this guy thinks. Oh, that's right.. the oil biz doesn't want us to have an energy policy,

Apr. 28 2011 10:19 AM

Why are you buying up as much potable water as possible, billions of gallons worth?

ya might wanna drop your assertion that fracking is "fine because people have been fracking in texas for years *in Texas*." That might work in Texas but this ain't Texas.

3. "New York has nothing to do with natural gas" -- aside from being the market for the Marcellus Shale methane, you mean.

Apr. 28 2011 10:19 AM
lou from nj

Reliance on natural gas as a transportation fuel will cause ng prices to sky rocket... there was a hint to this a few years ago when natural gas prices rose sharply. Homeowners across the U.S. would find their heating bills increasing 3 to 5 times current ng pricing. It would be similar to the U.S. choice of corn as a syn fuel option... price pressures have wrippled through the economy as a result of this decision.

Apr. 28 2011 10:18 AM
Amanda from Yorktown NY

If Pickens is "not political" then I'm not overweight. What a relief. Bikini season, here I come!

Apr. 28 2011 10:16 AM
Julian from Manhattan

Natural Gas powered engines (and gasoline engines) are not as thermically efficient and don't have the low-end torque characteristics of diesel engines. They are not as well suited to the task. That's why you don't see very many large gasoline or LPG powered trucks or trains. LPG trucks will burn more fuel per mile, somewhat negating their "home-grown" alternatives.

Apr. 28 2011 10:16 AM
Zen Sutherland from ny

Mr Pickins, Why are we so concerned with the Saudis, when Canada and Mexico are our number one and two suppliers ?

Apr. 28 2011 10:14 AM
Julian from Manhattan

Natural Gas powered engines (and gasoline engines) are not as thermically efficient and don't have the low-end torque characteristics of diesel engines. They are not as well suited to the task. That's why you don't see very many large gasoline or LPG powered trucks or trains. LPG trucks will burn more fuel per mile, somewhat negating their "home-grown" alternatives.

Apr. 28 2011 10:13 AM

This guy again? If he really cared about America, he'd invest in solar. This guy makes millions off his proposals. I just can't figure how the media considers him an authority on energy policy. He probably makes donations somewhere to get air time.

It's widely knows he's been buying up water supply in the southwest. Why would anyone trust someone who considers water supply should be owned?

Oh, and he'll dominate the direction of the conversation.. last time he got just got off the phone (has to take another call) after he had said what he came to say.

Apr. 28 2011 10:13 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Just listening to that Obama audio starkly reminds me......WHAT A PHONY OBAMA IS !!! And might I add a LIAR.

He has done NOTHING to get off Mideast oil....he has blocked domestic oil drilling, domestic gas production, domestic shale production, attacked the coal industry, handcuffed nuclear power....on&on.

Apr. 28 2011 10:11 AM

use more trains less trucks!

Apr. 28 2011 10:11 AM

What is the difference between

"Natural Gas" and Methane (cow/human/dinosaur farts?)?

Apr. 28 2011 10:11 AM
ml from inwood

Why are you giving a platform for someone who is promoting hydro-fracking??

Apr. 28 2011 10:10 AM

Brian - your comment about him being Republican was clear that he HAD mostly conbtribution to republican political causes. You didn't identify him as currently belonging to any political party. Please don't let him just state that he's not political.

Apr. 28 2011 10:10 AM
John Trallo from Sonestown, PA

Mr. Pickens, you have repeatedly stated that hydraulic fracturing has been around for decades and you have fracked thousands of wells. However, you fail to mention that the hydraulic fracturing being used in unconventional shale plays is NOT the same process. The fracking process being used now, known as 'high volume, slick water fracturing' has only been used since 1998. In every state, in every region this has been done, it has left a trail of contaminated ground water, reduced air qulaity, loss of property value, loss of property, public health and safety issues, etc., and you continue to claim this is safe and worth developing. I live in N/E PA where gas drilling/fracking is taking place and I've seen the damage first hand. People are becoming seriously ill here from contaminated drinking water and compressor station emissions, and property values are falling through the floor. Is that why you are investing in fresh water futures? Fossil fuels are a commodity. Clean, fresh water is our constitutional right. Not another commodity for you to profit from. We can live without fossil fuels. We can not live without clean fresh water.

Apr. 28 2011 10:09 AM
James Northrup from Dallas

Absent any national energy plan of any sort, for any period of time, we get self serving mountebanks like T Bone to spout ad hoc ones that are designed primarily to benefit mountebanks T Bone.

Apr. 28 2011 10:06 AM
Amy from Westchester County NY

Please ask Mr. Pickens if he ever feels any guilt over Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth," and his part in allowing the second Bush administration to happen.

It didn't turn out so well.

Apr. 28 2011 10:05 AM
Cynthia Nash from Milanville,PA/NY, NY

These are the promises of the natural gas industry.

We promise to invade and occupy your communities and pollute the air you breathe and your water sources.

We promise to send our landsmen to prey on the economically desperate and the uninformed.

We promise to come with convoys of trucks spewing diesel exhaust.

We promise that you really don’t smell that awful odor in the air.

We promise that our drill sites will be generating toxic fumes on a daily basis both during the drilling process and once the drill site is stabilized.

We promise to bring you long-term pain for short-term gain.

We promise that we will do everything in our power to dismiss and discredit hard scientific evidence.

We promise that your property values will plummet.

We promise that the death of your livestock, pets and ponds have nothing to do with drilling.

We promise that the illnesses that develop in your previously healthy family will have nothing to do with drilling.

We promise we will continue to buy elections and politicians on the federal, state and local level right down to the smallest town hall.

We promise that we will do everything in our power to supersede the will and well being of the American people.

Apr. 28 2011 10:05 AM

we waste a lot of engery. when will we talk about just cutting back. just picking a new fuel is not going to help. natual gas is not all that clean any way. neither is nuclear

Apr. 28 2011 10:04 AM

Replacing diesel or gasoline with natural gas is to replace a problem with another problem.

Investments should be forward looking not backward looking

Gas and other fossil fuels are subsidized 10x as much as renewable energy according to a recent international study. Creating more incentives towards gas only adds to the problem and further postpones sane energy solutions in the United States

By going further in the direction of gas, we are ceding leadership in wind, solar, tide technologies to Western Europe

Gas production in the USA will not result in cheap, plentiful fuel. Gas producers will sell to the highest global bidders — the thirsty, emerging economies abroad. It is a grave, strategic mistake to INCREASE our dependence on this fuel. We should be investing in renewable energy that cannot be exported overseas and which will be cheap by comparison

Sustainable energy is competitive today, if you take into account the subsidies and externalized costs in fossil fuels

Gas is not “clean” — given the leaks in gas production and gas transportation conventional gas is as dirty as coal. Shale gas is much dirtier than coal.

The shills of the gas industry like to talk about the US being the “Saudi Arabia” of natural gas. Do the people in Saudi Arabia and other fossil fuel producing countries seem happy to you?

Fossil fuel economies are inherently corrupting. What do people think — that God rewards corrupt, larcenous dictators with vast rewards of fossil fuels? No, the causality is fossil fuel extraction is corrupt. Fossil fuel production, whether coal, oil or gas, extracts wealth while leaving local economies poor and undeveloped. And it leaves a terrible mess behind.

Apr. 28 2011 09:54 AM
Patricia Friedland from Manhattan

Reports are rampant that show the dangers to our lives and environment due to hydrofracking including a major three-part series in the New York Times by Ian Urbina, and the peer-review study by Professor Robert Howarth.
A question: What is the response to these studies?

The very process includes chemicals that the industry will not admit to but that have already had a devastating impact on the health and well being of American citizens and on the environment.
A question: Why doesn't the industry release the names of all of the chemicals used in the process?

There is nothing uncertain about it: Hydrofracking is dangerous to our health. Most certainly, If it is allowed to continue unabated in New York, we will not have drinkable water.
A question: Does the industry take any responsibilty for the consequences of the process/?

The industry does not have to abide by regulations; thanks to people like T. Boone Pickens, it is all powerful. Clearly, the fact that people's health and lives have been, and will be, destroyed by this process is irrelevant when money is to be made.
A question: Why doesn't the industry feel it necessary to be regulated?

The evil that is done by the industry means not only destruction of lives and the environment, but with all the power at its command--to lobby and corrupt our government--it, unbelievably, gets huge subsidies. My taxes go to companies already making billions.
A question: Why is a billion dollar the industry getting subsidies?

Our country could be on its way to sustainable energies. The industry makes sure this isn't happening.
A question: Why aren't sustainable energies getting the same subsidies the industry gets?

Apr. 28 2011 09:42 AM
Cliff from Highland Park, NJ

Additionally, shale gas would be unwise even in the absence of the threat of widespread water contamination.

First, shale, unlike conventional reservoirs of gas, does not give up its gas easily; any area not subjected to hydraulic fracturing will not produce. Shale beds cover vast areas (e.g., the Marcellus covers 2/3 of Pennsylvania, and nearly half of New York, along with much of the rest of Appalachia). When proponents talk about decades of natural gas, they are talking about large-scale industrialization of entire regions (e.g., hundreds of thousands of wells in Pennsylvania alone, with at least 18,000 near the Upper Delaware, and each of them a much larger operation than the conventional wells of old).

Second, shale development would be a greenhouse gas disaster:

a) New research shows that shale gas is actually worse than coal when considered on a cradle-to-grave basis. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and leaks at all stages of production. Dr. Robert Howarth led a team of researchers at Cornell showing that methane releases, both intentional and accidental, more than eliminate any alleged greenhouse gas benefit attributed to shale gas.


b) Exploitation of a new fossil fuel resource will delay the development of alternative energy sources and result in burning a much larger amount of fossil fuel than would be the case without shale gas. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the UK's University of Manchester recently wrote that, "while being promoted as a transition route to a low carbon future, none of the available evidence indicates that this is likely to be the case. It is difficult to envisage any situation other than shale gas largely being used in addition to other fossil fuel reserves and adding a further carbon burden. This could lead to an additional 11ppmv of CO2 over and above expected levels without shale gas – a figure that could rise if more of the total shale gas resource were to be exploited than envisaged in the scenarios."

Shale gas proponents have noted much the same thing: Ann Myers Jaffe of the Baker Institute at Rice University, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last year entitled "Shale Gas Will Rock the World," agreed that shale gas would inevitably delay the implementation of renewables.

In sum, the goal of Mr. Pickens and others who promote shale gas right now is to bolster demand for their product through policy incentives and a large-scale infrastructure buildout (e.g., CNG fleet conversion, etc.). We would then be mining gas - for that is what the process most closely resembles - throughout vast areas of the country, with not only a huge environmental footprint but also opportunity costs to match, delaying by decades the implementation of genuine renewables.

Apr. 28 2011 09:14 AM

Mr. Pickens is a brilliant hedge fund manager, because in this debate over our energy future, he has bet on all sides. If methane gas wins the argument, he gets an immediate payout; and when drilling for gas has ruined all of the nation's aquifers, he wins, because then he will sell us water to drink; and once the gas is depleted, which will happen much sooner than industry claims, he will have his wind farms up and running and supply us with the renewable energy we SHOULD be investing in now.

Since he doesn't need the money, we'd like Mr. Pickens to call for removal of all taxpayer subsidies and tax breaks to gas industry, and for that comparable money to be invested in solar, wind, and water. (He'd still win!) It's a lie that renewable energy is "decades away," it is possible now, with technology that already exists, and without poisoning humans or nature. The recent Stanford study posits that the entire world (!) could be run fully on renewables (including vehicles) by 2030.

The short-sighted rush towards methane gas hits home right here in New York City. According to Dr. Richard Perez, New York City could immediately convert 30% of its energy to solar power, simply by adding panels to roofs and parking lots. Instead, we have Mayor Bloomberg calling for an insanely dangerous gas pipeline to be installed in the West Village (the Spectra pipeline), and to convert all our buses, boilers and power plants to this deadly fossil fuel. Bloomberg has so many wonderful green initiatives, but even he is under the spell of this lie that gas is a "transitional fuel." One dirty fossil fuel is just as bad as another. One that is radioactive as well as toxic would seem obviously worst.

As New Yorkers, we've got to be the leaders here--we've got to stop expensive and short-sighted pipelines and infrastructure from being built, and demand an immediate transition to renewables. Why are we spending a DIME on more poisonous technology when a clean solution is within our grasp? Renewables ARE possible now, and will create real and lasting jobs, and will keep our air, water and land safe.

(For more info on the Spectra pipeline and sustainable energy, please find Sane Energy Project on Facebook)

Apr. 28 2011 09:13 AM
Cliff from Highland Park, NJ

I hope you will press Mr. Pickens on his frequent denials of the links between shale gas production and water contamination. For example, on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart in January of this year, he denied that fracking can contaminate the aquifer: "I have never seen that happen. And you're not talking about Ned in the first reader. I've been here. I have fracked 3,000 wells in my life... I've never seen anything damaged."

In fact, damage to aquifers and surface waters from shale gas production is frequent and increasingly well-documented. Pro Publica used to commonly use the phrase "more than 1,000 documented cases" or something to that effect, and those reports came out well over a year ago. And in Dimock, PA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) confirmed through chemical analysis that the gas contaminating wells in a 9-square-mile area was deep, production-level gas and could only have been caused by drilling.

Mr. Pickens's denial rests on two different sleights of hand:

1) Despite the fact that water contamination in cases like Dimock can be shown to have resulted from shale gas production, it is much more difficult to show that it occurred at the actual moment of fracturing -- particularly because the type of fracturing being done has not undergone serious study. So when gas proponents say fracturing cannot be shown to have caused water contamination, what they really mean is that no one can show precisely where in the process the contamination occurred. (Unless, of course, they are brazenly dishonest and continue to insist they are not at fault long after government authorities conclude they are, as happened with Cabot Oil and Gas in the Dimock case noted above.)

2) The idea, repeated by shale gas proponents everywhere, that hydraulic fracturing is an old, safe and reliable technique, is also untrue, at least with respect to the high-volume, multi-stage slickwater hydraulic fracturing used to retrieve gas from shale. Hydraulic fracturing has indeed been around a long time, but the high-volume version of the practice is new in its scale and in its consequences. In fact, industry routinely described it as a new technique until the recent blowback over fracking. Professor Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell, a Ph.D. with expertise in rock fracture mechanics, has lectured extensively about the fallacy of describing this as the same old hydraulic fracturing the industry has always done.

Apr. 28 2011 09:02 AM
Angela from Manhattan

I wonder if it's in the business plan of the oil and gas industry to provide clean drinking water to the masses once they've irreversibly contaminated it all? Our water should be off limits to gas extraction. It's like taking our blood and mixing it with toxic chemicals, shoving it into the ground, never to return, or when it does, as a toxic liquid nightmare. And for what? What is more important? Money for the gas and oil industry? Or safe, clean and free drinking water for all? No one should own (or contaminate) the water. This can all be solved by turning the massive subsidies now given to King C.O.N.G. (Coal, Oil, Nuclear and Gas) to sustainable alternatives: solar, wind and tidal. Within 6 months, with a wartime-like mobilization (such as was mounted in WWII), we would rid ourselves of this plague forever and move effectively into the 21st Century with green energy, leaving behind the filthy, destructive and outmoded 20th century energy sources. Check the Earth Policy Institute for verification or “Carbon Free & Nuclear Free: A Roadmap for US Energy Policy.” Natural gas extraction and its consequences on our land, air, soil, water and health is nothing more than more disaster capitalism: industry profiting by the disasters they create.

Apr. 28 2011 08:53 AM
Marion M. Stein from New York State

I heard Mr. Pickens on the Nat'l Press Club last week and was appalled at the lack of candidness on his part. All of us concerned with the process of hydrofracking know that it is UNSAFE for water supplies, land use and above all people. There are always accidents and even when there aren't, it pollutes the environment.
It would be criminal to allow this unsafe process to waste the precious energy we have to attempt to get gas from the type of geologic structures in the Marcellus Shale of the Northeast. We need to REDUCE our need for this precious and irreplaceable commodity by saving it for the things we REALLY need it for like building new infrastucture, rail lines to replace the truck fleets. I've just read 'The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler and was wondering what Mr. Pickens has to say about that book?

Apr. 28 2011 08:52 AM
Jill from the Shale

T. Boone-
Contrary to your "talking points", there are thousands of instances of water contamination from the process of hydrualic fracturing. The process must be examined from cradle to grave. To narrowly look at the injection process is a disservice to the truth.

The Process of high volume slickwater hydrofracking is dirty on many levels including, including the business model sustained by externalizing the cost of business and government subsidies.
The carbon footprint of the process is as big or bigger than coal. The deforestation, land disturbance, water pollution, social upheavals and destruction of existing economies, loss of agricultural land are all unacceptable.

T. Boone, with all due respect, you are full of hot air, please go power a windmill.

Apr. 28 2011 08:42 AM

Our water was poisoned by commercial gas drilling activities in Pennsylvania. So were our neighbors -- some of whom were in the business of selling drinking water in the NYC area for generations. At this rate of fracking and commercial activity-- a true commodities player might bet that clean water will become a far more valuable commodity in the near future than fuel.

I just cynically searched to see if you, personally, make money from the shrinking amount of drinkable water.

You know what I found, Mr. Pickens: you are buying all the still-usable water around you, billions of gallons worth, turning this commodity into your best paying investment to date. Not cool.

Apr. 28 2011 07:58 AM
Alice from Park Slope

T. Boone Pickens has a lot to answer for! Listed are a few questions and issues I hope might get discussed.

-- Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth's peer-review study (the only peer-reviewed study of this nature) showing that when the total life (extraction to burning) is taken into account, fracked natural gas has equal or greater a greenhouse footprint than does coal.

-- Stanford University/University of CA at Davis study by Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi shows that with existing technologies we can convert to sustainables, and completely get off fossil fuels and nuclear, by 2030

-- "American" gas companies are not so American: Norwegian Gas owns huge shares of Chesapeake, and India, China, etc. are also investing heavily in American gas companies. (Norway does not allow drilling on its land.) Exxon/Mobile is an international company, as is Hess, etc. Most of the smaller natural gas companies are either now owned by the larger international oil and gas companies, or in partnership with them.

-- The numerous major accidents: the major spill of frack waste water in Bradford County PA last week, spreading frack fluid over acres of farm land and into the Tioga Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River; the blowouts near Pittsburgh last June; the pipeline explosions in Philadelphia and San Bruno CA, etc....

-- The more than 100 homes in Bradford County, PA which have lost their water and are having water trucked to them by industry.

-- The NY Times articles on:
PA dumping frack waste into streams and on roads purposefully;
High radioactive count of frack waste leaving water filtration plants

-- T. Boone Pickens owns huge tracks of water resources in the South West. Is he planning on selling water to folks who have lost their water due to fracking? Who is paying for all the water currently trucked to these people?

Fracking is really a ponzi scheme: Most of the return industry receives is from new investment. Industry actually often loses money drilling for gas. Plus, America is producing more gas than it actually consumes right now. It is partly for these reasons that industry is pushing hard to build the Spectra pipeline through the West Village and Chelsea: Industry wants to get a new pipeline to the East Coast so that it gets access to export markets -- so that the price of gas goes up (supply and demand).

The US government currently provides about $500 Billion in various types of subsidies and tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry and very little to sustainables. Without these subsidies, sustainables actually would be cheaper than fossil fuel energy sources.

-- Since the gas industry has such huge pockets to invest in lobbying and media ads, how can grassroots organizations and individuals compete? The auction now running by Damascus Citizens for Sustainability on eBay (called DCS Art Auction Benefit) is an attempt to raise funds by a grassroots organization.

Apr. 28 2011 07:25 AM

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