Pickens Plan May Test Obama’s Leadership

From David Almasi:

Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli’s commentary on the inherent problems within the “Pickens Plan” was published in today’s Washington Examinernewspaper.

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens claims altruistic reasons for promoting the construction of massive wind farms and converting trucks and fleet vehicles to be powered by natural gas in order to lessen U.S. demand for foreign oil. Deneen points out the plan may result in both misery for politically-weak urban communities and money for Pickens.

Ultimately, she notes, the Pickens Plan may be a test of President Barack Obama’s leadership.

In “Pickens Plan is Hot Air That May Burn America,” Deneen writes:

Converting vehicles to natural gas taps a resource now used by power plants to generate electricity. To compensate, the Pickens Plan suggests massive wind turbines. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 100,000 such turbines – many the size of 40-story buildings – would be necessary to handle just 20 percent of the nation’s electricity needs.

To deliver that power, the Energy Department further estimates 12,650 miles of new transmission lines would be needed by 2030 at a cost of between $64 and $128 billion…

…Pickens compares the proposed new power grid to the construction of the 46,000-mile interstate highway system decades ago. Sadly, back then it was often the poorest neighborhoods selected for eminent domain evictions to make way for new roads.

So-called “negro removal” in Detroit’s Paradise Valley and Newark’s Central Ward helped spark the July 1967 riots that collectively led to 66 deaths. Highway construction destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes in a process the San Francisco Chronicle in 1959 called “a crime that cannot be prettied up.”

Pickens has not assured the public his plan would not repeat this exploitation of minorities and the politically-disadvantaged.

Pickens would also likely profit from his plan, thanks to taxpayer support. He testified before Congress that his plan might succeed only with the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which was recently extended by the $787 billion bailout bill.

Mesa Power, a Pickens’ company, wants to build a 2,700-turbine wind farm in Texas. According to a report by the National Center for Public Policy Research, “Pickens’ firm stands to receive between $1.66 billion and about $3 billion in PTC payments alone over 10 years, a significant portion of its original investment.”

Regarding the proposal as a challenge for the President, Deneen notes:

Obama’s leadership will soon be tested. Will he side with the little guy, protecting their homes and guarding their access to affordable energy? Or will he deliver for special interests like T. Boone Pickens and anti-energy environmental organizations?

If he chooses the latter, it won’t be the change so many people thought they voted for last November.”

To read the entire commentary, click here.

This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


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