Mitt Romney’s new energy plan amounts to “drill, baby drill” on America’s public lands and shores. His vision for energy follows that of his oil donors and chief energy adviser, shale oil baron Harold Hamm. Meanwhile, it neglects other sources of American energy, especially the growing wind and solar industries: The League of Conservation Voters counted Romney’s plan includes 154 mentions of oil, but just 24 mentions of wind and solar, 9 of them negative.
On Thursday, appearing on Morning Joe, billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens criticized Romney’s sharp focus on an oil-above-all strategy, at a time when the industry has never been better:
They missed the mark. All they talk about is oil. Oil, drill off the East Coast, West Coast, federal lands, everything [...] But our industry, in America, has done a fabulous job. I mean, we’re number three in the world on oil production: Saudi Arabia, Russia, United States. And here we are, our industry’s has done a fabulous job. And they don’t mention natural gas, in the whole release, it’s all about oil.
Watch the video:
Pickens, unhappy the Romney camp overlooks the country’s natural gas boom, pointed out that the oil industry is doing very well for itself. In 2011, five oil companies alone netted a record-breaking $137 billion profit. This year, domestic oil production reached its highest level in eight years, and imports have fallen to under 50 percent.
Romney’s single-minded focus on oil highlights his ties to oil billionaires like the Koch brothers, who are personally spending over $60 million on Romney’s behalf. Pickens, who has fueded with the Kochs before, called Koch Industries the “biggest deterrent to an energy plan in America.” The plan could deliver huge benefits to Hamm too, who is Romney’s chief energy adviser, his major super PAC donor, and worth billions from drilling in North Dakota.
Billionaire energy investor T. Boone Pickens has a bone to pick with the country’s leading pollutocrats.
Pickens said in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo’s Daily Ticker that Koch Industries, the company owned by Charles and David Koch, is the major stumbling block to a coherent U.S. energy policy:
“The biggest deterrent to an energy plan in America is Koch Industries,” the BP Capital founder tells Yahoo’s Aaron Task. “They do not want an energy plan for America because they have the cheapest natural gas price they’ve ever had, and they’re in the fertilizer business and they’re in the chemical business. So their margins are huge. And they do not want you to have an energy plan, because if you had a plan, then natural gas prices would come up.”
Back in October, a German state minister explained that the country could decarbonize with renewables because “We Don’t Have the … Koch Brothers.” He was referring to the Kochs’ lobbying for dirty fuels and against clean energy, and its spending on climate science disinformation, which exceeds that of ExxonMobil. As Business Insider explains:
The second-largest private company in the United States, Koch Industries has spent at least $5 million in lobbying in each of the past four years, and given at least $1,000,000 in seven of the last eight election cycles, according to data from OpenSecrets.
In 2008, the company spent nearly $18 million on lobbying for oil and gas interests alone, according to Open Secrets. They’ve already spent $2.3 million on oil and gas lobbying in 2012.
Still, who can argue with Pickens’ central point? The men from Koch — and the groups, politicians, and disinformation they fund — are now the Sith Lords of climate and clean energy inaction in the country.
Speaking at the National Clean Energy Summit 2.0 in Las Vegas this August, Van Jones argued that “for all of the battleground politics that’s going on,” energy policy should be “the one place that should be a safe harbor for all of us.” Van Jones praised the “bipartisanship” of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who as a representative from Los Angeles succeeded in getting “the first president ever to sign into law a green jobs act, President George W. Bush.” He recognized that the summit participants came to find a “healing for our politics” in a “common ground agenda”:
Many of you have taken chances to start companies, you’ve written books, you’ve been grassroots champions for the change that we need. And I think you’re seeking not just a healing for our economy or a healing for our planet, but a healing for our politics. And I want to acknowledge that many of us are here because we are seeking something deeper. This is the common ground agenda. It should be the common ground agenda. We should be able to come together as a country on this one. Finally.
Jones then explained that “the values that underlie this clean energy conversation” are “the common ground values of America.” Underlying the call for clean energy is the value that “clean air is better than dirty air for the health of our children.” Underlying the call for energy efficiency is that value that treating our country’s resources “with wisdom and respect is more important than wasting them.” And “if we have the opportunity to fight both poverty and pollution by putting people to work in these new industries, we would be wise as a country to do that.”
To extended applause, Van Jones explained that the Obama administration has committed $5 billion to improving the energy efficiency of low-income households because the same investment “that cut unemployment and cut an energy bill and cuts greenhouse gases is also going to cut asthma, and take asthma inhalers out of little girls’ and boys’ pockets.”
Jones discussed in further detail how President Obama’s clean energy agenda tears down traditional ideological divides by “asking questions progressives like” but “giving answers that conservatives should like”:
We’re asking questions progressives like but we’re giving answers that conservatives should like. We’re asking questions about how to move the needle on poverty and pollution and how we create more economic opportunity especially for people in the lower part of our economy. But the answers are answers that conservatives should like. We’re not talking about expanding welfare, we’re talking about expanding work. We’re not talking about expanding entitlements, we’re talking about expanding enterprise and investments. We’re not talking about redistributing existing wealth, we’re talking about reinventing an existing sector, and creating new wealth by unleashing innovation and entrepeneurship. This should be common ground. We should be able to stand together and be one country on this.
Jones concluded by again making the call for us to “be one country” and connect “the people that most need work” to the “work that most needs to be done”:
There is so much work that needs to be done in this country to retrofit America, to cut these energy bills. And there are so many people who need work. This is our opportunity as a country — and it comes around very rarely — to take the people that most need work, and connect them to the work that most needs to be done, to fight pollution and poverty at the same time, and be one country. Let’s be one country.
An all-star cast of the leading voices in the new Obama era is convening at the Newseum in Washington DC to discuss the future of U.S. energy policy. The National Clean Energy Project follows a similar meeting convened by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last summer in Nevada. But much has changed in the past few months. The new administration — including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and White House energy adviser Carol Browner — have committed to a multibillion investment in a new clean energy grid with the economic recovery act signed into law last week by President Obama.
Former senator Tim Wirth of Colorado introduces the meeting.
10:30 PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
Every time before in the last thirty years when I started this … every time oil dropped people said give my Hummer back. They’re not saying that any more. I want to thank everybody this economic recovery bill has good things in it and I’m grateful as a citizen. We have to maximize the value of this economic recovery. The big short-term gains in jobs and greenhouse gas reductions are in energy efficiency advances.
10:35 VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE
We really do have a planetary emergency. This sounds shrill to many ears. We’re still not used to thinking in those terms. We’ve seen the oil price roller coaster. This roller coaster’s headed for a crash and we’re in the front car.
10:45 HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI
We have to hold together or we will all regret the missed opportunity.
10:55 T. BOONE PICKENS
Geothermal does not operate an eighteen-wheeler. Get realistic… I’m running out of time. But we are going to have an energy policy in America.
11:00 JOHN PODESTA, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND
We have to recognize we’re living through a terrible recession, a dependence on fossil fuels, and the almost existential threat of global warming.
At 10 PM tonight, the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope and right-wing oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens began a live-streamed chat that had been advertised across the Internet as an “e-rally” in response to the presidential debate. Pickens and Pope previously met in a discussion moderated by Center for American Progress Action Fund president John Podesta, in which the three found common ground on the question of getting off our dependence on oil.
Under the banner of the Pickens Plan to increase wind and natural gas use, Pickens and other natural gas titans are fueling a major campaign to support Proposition 10 in California, which would give $5 billion in taxpayer money to natural gas companies. Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a Pickens company, has spent $3.8 million directly pushing Prop 10.
Although the Sierra Club opposes Prop 10, it has raised no money to block the measure, according to state records.
He has no interest in conservation and no interest in greening our energy supply. He’s merely interested in energy independence and if that involves renewable energy, not to mention if he can make billions off of it, then so be it. He made it clear that he wants more domestic drilling than even John McCain. In his own words: “McCain says, ‘OK off the east and west coast.’ I say east, west coast and ANWR—get it all!”
So let me get this straight. We can’t drill our way out of this problem, but we should drill everything anyway? Could there perhaps be some lingering vested interests for T. Boone?
At the Big Tent in Denver, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta, Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, and oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens engaged in a discussion about our energy future. Pickens, who believes that our global oil production is at its peak and will soon inexorably decline, discussed his “Pickens Plan” for a massive increase in wind and solar electricity production and a shift for trucking fleets from diesel to natural gas. Podesta noted that the climate crisis is evident today, in the flooding in Florida and the increasing threat of powerful hurricanes. “The cost of doing nothing,” Podesta said, “is extremely substantial.”
This panel of three highly powerful individuals from the environmental, progressive, and conservative energy industry communities represented a remarkable confluence of priorities, in recognizing the energy crisis and the need to get off oil. As Carl Pope described:
If our politics was even vaguely functional, anything that all three of us agree on would have happened long ago. We have some very deep profound political problems. Our politics are broken.
Pickens himself, a highly influential fundraiser for right-wing politicians, described how his money has gotten him access in Washington but that he had learned that his contributions don’t translate to policy. He expressed his enthusiasm for the ability of the Pickens Plan campaign to reach millions on the Internet and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people. He argued, “I’m not doing this to make money. My entire estate will go to charity when I go. We are now importing almost 70 percent of our oil. It’s too much. We’re not talking about my generation — we can make it to the finish line.”
They also aired for the audience a fifteen-second spot that was rejected by NBC censors, because, according to Pickens, the network wanted him to prove that “we’re not doing a thing here” on energy policy. Watch the rejected ad: Read more
Testifying before Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, conservative Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens explained his plan to dramatically decrease oil usage by greatly expanding wind power electricity. “World oil production, I believe,” Pickens explained, “has peaked.” When questioned by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) about the value of lifting the moratorium on drilling of the East and West coasts of the United States, Pickens responded:
I’m not a big believer. I think you’re going to get a rude awakening as to the value of the East and West coasts when it’s opened up and when it’s put up for sale. When it’s put up for sale, I think you’ll be surprised at the price you get for the tracts.
Pickens was politely relating to Domenici a cold hard fact — the offshore oil reserves of the United States lie predominantly in areas already open to drilling. The Gulf Coast and Alaskan shores, not the California or Eastern seaboard, have the great majority of remaining reserves:
Most of the country’s estimated offshore reserves – about 75 percent – lie in areas that have been drilled for years or are being opened for exploration. Roughly 48 percent of the nation’s estimated reserves, or 41 billion barrels, lie beneath the western and central Gulf of Mexico, where oil companies armed with new drilling technology are pushing into ever deeper water. Another 27 percent of the estimated reserves, or 23.6 billion barrels, are believed to lie off the north coast of Alaska, where the federal government sold oil exploration leases this spring, despite fears that the work would hurt the polar bear population.
As the Energy Information Administration has found, lifting the offshore drilling moratorium would have an “insignificant” impact on prices for at least twenty years.