Thursday, July 31, 2008

T. Picken's Boon?

My my my how things do change. T. Boone Pickens, reviled funder of the even more reviled Swift Boat Vets who helped hull John "Rambo" Kerry's campaign below the waterline, bids fair to become the newest darling of the progressive chattering classes. His new energy independence plan focuses on wind power and the use of natural gas, in both of which he has invested heavily. I must say it's almost refreshing to witness such an unapologetic public display of naked self interest. If chutzpah is a necessary part of his plan he's exceedingly well covered on that score.

T. Boone's "plan" is to convince, goad, or force the country to build several hundred billion dollars worth of wind turbines that in the fullness of time will take over electrical generating duties of the many natural gas fired facilities that presently do the job. By some future techno magic this wind generated power will be temporarily stored thereby solving wind and solar power's principle Achilles heel which is of course that the wind don't always blow and the sun don't always shine. No technological solution is predicted, purported, or even guessed at. This will supposedly allow the much greater use of natural gas in motor vehicles in lieu of our current practice of paying abundant danegeld to those nasty furriners of our fevered imaginations who wring their hands and cackle like Snidely Whiplash as their bank accounts explode with oil cash.

T. Boone expects us to believe that his vast investments in wind power and natural gas should not taint our acceptance of this scheme. Perhaps it shouldn't but there's that little detail hiding in there of some putative future storage technology that rubs me quite the wrong way. Rather reminds me of a wonderful New Yorker cartoon. Two academic types stand in front of a blackboard covered in two separate sets of complex equations. Connecting the two sets of equations is the phrase, "Then a miracle occurs." One of the profs is pointing at the sentence saying, "I think you should be more specific in step two."

At least one of the pieces of this self-aggrandizing puzzle makes sense and that is to "encourage" fleet vehicle operators to switch to compressed natural gas. This is a fine idea but it's already happening with increasing frequency in response to higher fuel prices. The process needs no "encouragement" from the government or anyone else except the goad of self interest underlying all market decisions. In fact no part of the "alternative" energy spectrum whatever is deserving of government support since the much maligned market is doing a dandy job of encouraging switching to other fuel sources.

T. Boone is hopeful that the current deaf dumb and blind hysteria over global warming will cut the purse strings of various governmental entities and let the cash roll out, into his pockets naturally. In the current political climate it's a good bet for him and any others who want to profit from the runaway bandwagon of "climate change". Fine let 'em profit, if they can, without tax credits, subsidies, and the many other cost deferring mechanisms so beloved by the alternative energy industry. In T. Boone's case the state of Texas has been convinced (coerced?) to pony up nearly 5 billion clams to facilitate building the transmission infrastructure needed to get the juice created by all those loverly turbines to somewhere it might be used.

Just makes your heart glad don't it that Texas has seen fit to enable ol' T. Boone to make a few miserable extra billion to supplement his presently meager income. He's just going with the flow after all. He may well have become resigned to the Dems. perpetually intransigent quashing of every effort to increase oil exploration anywhere on U.S. soil so hey why not cash in where a wily old wildcatter can, while he still can. Sooner the better for there is the risk that the body politic will resist having the wholesale imposition of stupefyingly expensive AGW "solutions" forced upon them. They might rebel, congressionally speaking, and the alternative energy subsidy gravy train could jump the tracks.

Wildcatters understand risk however so I suppose it's not surprising he has placed his bets on the willfully blind economic philosophies of ascendant progressives who view free and open markets as an obsolete remnant of the unenlightened past. I only wish I could throw in with T. Boone as he seeks to profit from the economic turmoil that will inevitably follow the vast hyper-costly anti-carbon mandates being spurred on by the bizarre panic over global warming. There's extra sweet irony in one of the biggest profit hounds of the old age of crude oil exploration shrewdly attacking the soft underbelly of the environmental movement. Makes a body proud.

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