Pickens emphasizes energy solutions

President Ken Starr, right, speaks with special guest T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management on Wednesday in Waco Hall during the first On Topic event.
Nick Berryman | Lariat Photographer

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management, joined President Ken Starr Wednesday as the first guest in the president’s new series On Topic, geared toward addressing current issues in America.

Pickens spoke about his energy plan for the country, the Pickens Plan, with certainty that it will be implemented. The plan aims to reduce dependence on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for oil. By implementing other domestic sources of energy, such as solar energy and domestic natural gas, Pickens said he hopes to solve what he considers a national security issue of relying on foreign countries for oil.

“This is all going to be done; I’m not kidding you. I have committed my time and my own money to it. I spent $82 million out of my pocket on this plan,” Pickens said. “We’re going to get it done because it has to be done for the country. If we go forward without an energy plan from here it’ll be a disaster.”

The Pickens Plan has several pillars, including offering incentives for home and commercial building owners to make their buildings more energy efficient, increasing the generation of solar energy (in turn creating new jobs) and using domestic natural gas to fuel transportation.

However, some believe the Pickens Plan may be too broad to solve America’s energy problems effectively.

“I do think that he has a bit of a widespread shotgun solution that would be a little overreaching, that it wouldn’t necessarily be practical in all areas and that it’s something I believe needs to be taken on by state governments a little more than the federal government,” said East Winthrop, Maine, freshman William Richards.

Though Pickens is a proponent for increasing the use of domestic natural gas, he said all of America’s own energy resources would be a part of its energy future.

“You have to replace the foreign oil with your own resources,” Pickens said. “I’m all American so any way it goes, if it’s American, it’s for me.”

Even ethanol, though disliked by some, could come into play, Pickens said.

“It’s an ugly baby, but it’s our baby,” Pickens said. “I’d rather have ethanol than OPEC.”

The Natural Gas Act, which will be voted on in Congress next week, could be the first step to switching the U.S.’s 18-wheelers from diesel to natural gas, Pickens said.

Pickens also said that he believes one of the problems related to energy use in America is citizens’ lack of knowledge on the topic.

“That’s the missing link in this country right now, is we’re not educated on the subject,” Pickens said. “We do not understand energy. That’s sad to see, but it is the case.”

Dr. Larry Lehr, senior lecturer of environmental science, said he was pleased with Pickens’ lecture and agrees that the nation needs to become more knowledgeable of the topic.

“I thought he was a terrific spokesman for American energy policy and I’m glad to hear that American presidents and American politicians are listening to him,” Lehr said. “I think part of our responsibility not only at Baylor, but at colleges everywhere across the United States, is to educate everyone to become energy literate and to think about our future.”