Monday, August 17, 2009

Pickens/Turner op-ed

T. Boone Pickens and Ted Turner co-author an opinion piece on energy policy in today's Wall Street Journal:
Long-term economic and environmental interests compel us to put a priority on energy independence and a price on carbon pollution. Natural gas and renewable energy are obvious sources for cheap, clean and reliable electric power and transportation fuels.

In the electricity sector, natural gas is already cheap, available and ready to meet the nation's power needs while improving climate security. It emits about half the carbon dioxide per British thermal unit of energy, and far fewer of the heavy metals than does coal.

Adopting a "cash-for-clunkers" program in the utility sector can save money and reduce emissions right away by retiring the oldest, least efficient and most polluting power plants in exchange for modern gas-powered plants. New coal plants should be required to combine natural gas with the coal they burn, resulting in cleaner emissions, and every power plant should meet strict carbon-emissions standards.

We should also adopt a strong national standard requiring that electrical generation include a growing percentage of renewable fuels to help bring down costs over time, and ensure America's place in the burgeoning global competition for innovative renewable and efficiency technologies. Numerous state initiatives have already demonstrated the feasibility of these standards on a smaller scale.
Pickens, it should be noted, is not exactly a disinterested party here. He is both owner of the Clean Energy Fuels Corporation, which describes itself as the "largest provider of natural gas for transportation in North America", and a huge investor in wind power. In other words, he is attempting to use the heavy hand of the government to implement policies that would make him rich.

Meanwhile it's worth pointing out that gasoline decried by Pickens, which is used by the overwhelming majority of cars, costs anywhere from $2.30 to $2.80 per gallon in most parts of the country. In comparison I bought a gallon of Safeway brand water yesterday for 99 cents. In other words, something that must be drilled, transported, refined and transported again costs only $1.50 more than something that is basically boiled, packaged and shipped.

Update: I should note that the gas prices include tax, further reducing the disparity between the price of water (tax free in DC) and gas.

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