The Pickens Plan – environmentalists rejoice?

The man partially responsible for the swift-boating of John Kerry has a plan to wean America off of foreign oil in ten years.  Basically he wants to use wind power to replace the natural gas we currently use to generate electricity.  This natural gas could then be used to power automobiles, which according to him, would help us move away from foreign oil.  He even acknowledges that the use of natural gas is only a temporary fix while we develop better, long-term alternatives.

To me, this seems like a sea-change in the thinking of conservatives and oil executives.  Others have some comments on the efficiency of using natural gas for transportation (in short: it’s an imperfect solution), but this complaint that it is a “band-aid” solution sort of miss the point in my mind.  Pickens admits that this is a short term bridge to get us to the next generation of fuels.  My main beef is the fact that Pickens is only concerned with giving us energy that is domestic, forsaking other goals such as carbon neutrality or clean air (50% of our electricity would still be from coal).  Won’t the market help us choose that fuel which is cheapest (whether produced overseas or domestically) even after adding a carbon cap and trade (or heaven forbid a direct carbon tax)?

Plus there is always the tool that most technophiles (choose to) forget, and some presidential candidates mock: efficiency.  An easy way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is simply to reduce our energy demands as a whole.  Huge gains could be had through higher fuel standards, building energy efficiency and ultimately (since this is a blog about planning) compact urban development that requires fewer SOV trips.  However, I think Pickens is in the business of selling MORE energy, not saving the planet.

Anyone else think  this presentation seems inspired by another famous slide show?  Strange bedfellows this energy crisis makes…

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