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T. Boon Pickens’ Lecture Review at UT

November 10, 2009

New post from Tom Bowden (my dad).  Enjoy!

November 6, 2009

Hi Waste Project folks,

I just wanted to send in a letter about the T. Boone Pickens lecture I went to at the University of Texas at Dallas yesterday. From someone who has been-there done-that in the 1980s and 1990s relating to: passive solar, active solar, ethanol fermentation (from waste, short rotation woody crops, etc.), wind power for ethanol plant, methane digester technology, commercial-scale liquid recycling, and someone who has been battling cynicism, I was pretty inspired.

Mr. Pickens (81 years old) was engaging and very much on the ball.  He has developed the Pickens Plan for US energy independence through rapidly expanding natural gas for energy and transportation needs along with the large-scale use of wind (and solar) power.

He is all about American independence from foreign oil; OPEC in particular.  He sees Americans using American found, and produced, energy as in the best long-term interest of America and Americans. Basically taking responsibility for our current and long-term energy needs, American security, and the American economy.

There are a number of things I really liked about The Pickens’ Plan:

1) there is a “real” plan, not just airy fairy political goal setting.  Pickens wants to see the entire US heavy-duty trucking industry convert from diesel to natural gas.

2) the plan is in real-time. He wants to do this in 10 years.

3) the plan is large. This single significant act would cut our crude oil imports substantially (about 20%) and reduce diesel tail pipe pollution by 25%.

Obviously, from Mr. Pickens’ point of view, the CNG fuel would come from current and new wells of natural gas from US soil.

4) the plans include current technologies of CNG engines, wind and solar, plus investing in new tech infrastructure (smart grid), and spending money on research for energy storage, wind tech, etc. Along with new techniques for recovering the natural gas (one problem is this technology may create other environmental problems).

5) the plan is measurable and trackable.

6) the plan is regional and national; and most importantly it can be cookie-cuttered, mass-produced, and it is duplicatable.

Mr. Pickens is trying to stay one step ahead of the looming problem of “peak oil” with all its ramifications.  His prediction of peak oil is within 36 months; coupled with the maximum world output of 85 million bbls per day of crude oil (no matter the demand) that will create $300 per barrel costs along with unforeseen social and economic fallout.

To be honest it was good to see someone stand up and propose part of a national (and worldwide?) energy plan that we can start implementing today.  We really do need to start somewhere – there is way too much talk with too little large-scale action.  We have a worldwide problem; it is going to take some world scale reaction.  I realize that substituting one non-renewable fuel for another is not the ultimate goal, but from a pragmatic point of view it is a lesser evil.

From a personal point of view I liked the lamp shade from the 16 recycled plastic bottles in Ed Gregory’s letter of Oct. 27th, but it is not climate changing action.  Maybe I’m just groping in the dark and looking to support some kind of nation-wide scale action that may lead to the positive tipping point planet Earth desperately needs.

Tom Bowden

T. Boone Pickens in orange tie; Tom Bowden directly behind.
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