Global environmental challenges
Gore vs. Pickens: who’s got the right plan?
When Al Gore challenged the U.S. to produce all of its electricity from renewable sources in 10 years, his aggressive plan to combat climate change was pitted against another recently-unveiled proposal, from Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Gore, a former Democratic vice president and Nobel Prize-winning crusader on climate change, announced his plan last week and has since promoted it on U.S. television. Expected to cost between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion, Gore advocates investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy, energy efficiency and a national power grid. He also wants to retain energy production from nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, and invest in technology to store and capture carbon dioxide from coal and gas.
Inevitably, though, Gore’s plan has been compared to the so-called “Pickens Plan,” which calls for a massive switch to natural gas as a transportation fuel and a dramatic increase in wind power (Pickens, a legendary oil man, is currently spending $10 billion to build the world’s biggest wind farm — a project he expects will be a big moneymaker). Pickens says his $300 billion plan will reduce the amount of imported oil by more than a third in the next decade.
With a media campaign funded by Pickens’ vast personal fortune, the “Pickens Plan” has its own commercials running on TV. Gore’s plan is backed by his “We Campaign,” a $300 million effort launched earlier this year to mobilize Americans on climate change.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this weekend, Gore said he disagrees with Pickens that natural gas should be the dominant transportation fuel, advocating for electric cars instead. Pickens, however, has said Gore’s plan doesn’t do enough address the nation’s dependence on oil imports.
So who’s right? It’s clear that there is much that the men agree on, and both plans stand in stark opposition to President Bush’s recent move to increase domestic oil production by lifting the ban on oil drilling along most U.S. coastal states.
But with a new president on the way who is expected to be kinder to the kinds of plans Gore and Pickens are proposing, which man do you think has the right plan for increasing renewables in the United States and reducing our oil consumption?