By Sara Tirrito
OnTopic, a new discussion series established by President Ken Starr to address issues relating to both the community and the nation on the whole, will begin today.
T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management, will be the guest. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in Waco Hall and is open to the public.
Pickens will speak on his energy plan for America: The Pickens Plan. The plan is aimed at lessening dependence on foreign oil, which he said creates a national security issue.
“It is a security issue because we’re dependent on oil from countries that are not friendly to us, and that’s OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries],” Pickens said.
Concern for his grandchildren and the future generations of America has largely motivated Pickens’ work. He began creating the plan in 2008.
“We’ve gone 40 years with no energy plan,” Pickens said. “If we go forward 10 years just like we have the last 40, we will be paying $300 for oil and we’ll be importing 75 percent of our oil, and that won’t work. It’s too expensive and it doesn’t have to be that way, so you all have to get involved.”
Pickens has spoken at a number of schools across America as part of his college tour, including Yale University, Rice University and the University of Notre Dame.
“I’m going to the people that make a difference, which are the young people, and I’m serious about this,” Pickens said. “This subject is something that all of you should start to keep up with because it’s going to impact your lives in the future and you’re going to have an opportunity to have influence on it and you need to do just that.”
Dr. Stephen Gardner, chair and professor of economics and director of the McBride Center for International Business, said he hopes Pickens will address not only national security as a reason to lessen foreign dependence, but also climate change.
“The part that I wish he would say more about is climate change,” Gardner said. “I think that Boone Pickens is a very smart guy and he knows that climate change is an issue that people have a lot of different opinions on, so I think partly for that reason he does not emphasize that motivation for dealing with the energy problem. I think he knows that everybody recognizes the national security problem for reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”
Gardner said he believes national security concerns could be taken care of by becoming less dependent on fossil fuels such as natural gas, relying more heavily on renewable energy sources and taking “the actions that are needed to deal with climate change.”
“If we want to truly strengthen our national security, in my opinion, we become less dependent on those sources that first of all other countries can manipulate the prices of, but we also become less dependent on those sources that are most responsible for causing climate change,” Gardner said.