Environment Forum

from Tales from the Trail:

Former political enemies join hands to save the world?

Nearly six years ago,  Senator John Kerry and Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens were mortal political enemies.

As a major backer of President George W. Bush's re-election effort in 2004, Pickens contributed millions to a right-wing ad campaign questioning Kerry's record as a Vietnam war hero. The ads, which Kerry disputed, put him on the defensive and may have contributed to the Democrat's failure to win the White House.

kerry_pickensOn Wednesday, the billionaire and the Massachusetts senator sat side-by-side in the Capitol's ornate Senate Foreign Relations Committee room, where Kerry presides as its chairman.

Their mission: To spread the word about the legislation Kerry and Senator Joseph Lieberman have written to tackle global warming by reducing U.S. consumption of dirty-burning fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

"If you look at life looking backwards and standing in one place, you're going to waste your time," Kerry told a small group of reporters when asked about the new relationship with the man he now calls "Boone." "Six years ago was six years ago," Kerry said.

T. Boone Pickens: What, me worry?

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens is spending $2 billion on a bunch of windmills and so far has no way to get the electricity they will produce to market. Last December he said he was a touch anxious, but on Wednesday he didn’t seem worried at all.

Pickens is pretty sure President Barack Obama will get some new power lines built to those plains in the Texas panhandle, but if need be, the oil-man-turned-renewable-energy-advocate will take his toys elsewhere.

“I’m not going to end up with 687 turbines in my garage. They are going to be sticking up spinning someplace,” he said at a San Francisco stop on his latest tour to drum up support for his plan to use wind power and natural gas-fueled vehicles to wean the Unites States from imported oil.

T. Boone Pickens working on solar

boonepickens.jpgT. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oil investor who is building the largest wind farm in the United States, is also setting his sights on solar power.

Pickens last month launched a campaign aimed at weaning the United States off its dependence on foreign oil and is in the midst of a nation-wide tour to promote it. Following a speech in Los Angeles, Pickens told me he is looking beyond his wind investments to solar energy and is eager to share his “Pickens Plan” with both of the U.S. presidential candidates. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Do you think your plan to meet with  Obama and McCain will happen any time soon?

Gore vs. Pickens: who’s got the right plan?

gore.jpgWhen 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.