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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

T. Boone Pickens' interview with Chicago Tribune's editorial board: Oil man tells U.S. energy 'horror story,' says country in denial

Chicago Tribune, July 10, 2008

Billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens talked with the Tribune editorial board Wednesday about America's addiction to oil and his newest energy venture, wind power. Pickens wants the U.S. to build wind turbines and use natural gas resources to replace more than one-third of the oil the nation imports. "This is very close to war," he said.

Here is more of what he had to say.

The country has been in denial for a long time. I'm doing what I'm doing for the country. It's that simple. I think I know more about the oil industry than anybody else around. These [presidential] candidates do not understand. They don't understand how critical this all is.

I've talked to presidents before about energy. I was going to be the key energy adviser for Bob Dole in 1996. He said he wanted me to be chairman of Texas when he ran against Bill Clinton. I said, "OK, if I get to be the energy guy in the deal."

So maybe a month or two later, I said, "Do you think it's time to talk about energy?" He said, sure, go ahead and talk about it. He listened and said, "OK, now I'm gonna teach you something about politics. Right there, on the floor, that's a sleeping dog. Politicians don't kick sleeping dogs. Bill Clinton doesn't give a damn about energy and I don't either. Neither one of us is gonna kick a sleeping dog and so energy will not be an issue in this campaign. But in case one of us stumbles over the dog," he said, "you will be the guy that advises me on the issue." Neither one of them had a problem with energy, just like he said. They didn't want anything to do with it.

To blame Exxon Mobil for the price of gasoline being $4 a gallon is silly. The total amount of oil available every day in the world is 85 million barrels. That's it—that's blood, guts and feathers. That's the whole thing. And Exxon has 2.5 percent of that. That's all they have. Exxon is a peanut as far as owning oil in the global sense of things. Seventy percent of all the oil owned in the world today is owned by state-owned oil companies. The [U.S.] oil companies do not own the oil.

The OPEC countries this year will receive, in oil revenues, $700 billion [from the U.S.]. What does all that mean to us? I don't know what you call it—naive, weak, stupid or whatever—but we have drifted, drifted, drifted to where we're now importing almost 70 percent of our oil. In 40 years, we have never had an energy plan. Republican, Democrat, it doesn't make any difference. No one, nobody, has ever had an energy plan.

Ethanol is not a good fuel. It's an ugly baby, but it's our ugly baby. I'd rather have ethanol than I would foreign oil. I'd rather have anything than foreign oil.

The president said he wanted 35 billion gallons of ethanol by 2017. If all the corn went to ethanol, it'd be about half that amount. So you'd have to have something else to fill in if you're gonna try to make it 35 billion. It has to have something else.

You'll actually supplement [wind energy] with natural gas. You'll always have some natural gas working with your wind. And solar and wind can work together too. What's happened is we've never been pressed to find a solution because the oil was so cheap. Maybe some of these things will cost a little more than cheap oil. But oil is getting more and more expensive.

Coal is a resource that we have and it's cheap. It gets much more expensive when you start sequestering the carbon dioxide.

But you got to do it and it will work. There's no question it will work. And we gotta do it. I'm for everything, if it's in this country, because it creates jobs for us, it helps the economy. We just can't have the money leaving the country. It's a horror story.

Link to article:,0,4329070.story

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