Pickens discussed his support of wind power, which is a pillar of his Pickens Plan. The Plan calls on the U.S. to generate at least 20% of its electricity from wind power, build a "21st century backbone electrical grid," provide incentives for homeowners and owners of commercial buildings to implement energy efficiency upgrades and use America's natural gas to replace imported oil as a transportation fuel (this is an apparent expansion of his original Plan launched last year, which only included the wind and natural gas pieces).
The thrust behind Pickens' mission is national security - getting us off foreign oil and onto homegrown energy. He sees wind as critical to that effort and will do whatever it takes to get us there. When his interviewer - famed A&E documentary host and former CBS news anchor Bill Kurtis - asked him about controversial wind projects, like Cape Wind out East, he replied:
"If they don't want it, don't build it. I'm interested in building wind where people want it...millions of jobs will be created with the wind corridor from Texas to Canada...and I’m convinced the Obama Administration wants all of this, and that’s good."When someone argues against the Pickens Plan, Pickens asks them what their plan is to get off foreign oil. If they don't have one, he explained, "then their plan is foreign oil. If a congressman runs [for office] and doesn’t have an energy plan, he should be labeled 'foreign oil.' I don’t care if they’re a Democrat or a Republican."
Kurtis asked Pickens about some landowners' opposition to transmission lines, which are desperately needed to move the power from the windy plains to the city centers that need the power. As an owner of a huge amount of land himself, would Pickens oppose giant transmission lines crossing it?
"My friend, Ted Turner, and I talked about this recently and I asked Ted that same question. He said, 'If it’s good for the country, then it’s good for Ted Turner.' I have the same answer. I have a feeling that we’re going to have a lot of landowners in the U.S. who say that too. This is for the security of the country."Press Conference
Later that morning, Pickens held a press conference on his Plan and the promise of wind power. One reporter asked Pickens what he thought about the oil companies' slow action on renewables. For example, BP and Shell have cut or are pulling out of wind power research. What can we do about that? Pickens response:
"We don’t need oil companies. Why do we need Shell and BP? I’m serious. This can all be done without them. Shell and BP are international oil companies and I don’t know what their agenda is, but I know my agenda and what the American people want and we’re in sync...This administration is clear they want an RES. Just give it a little bit of time...I’m very optimistic. We’ve cleared every other hurdle as we’ve gone down the track and this is all going to look very different six months from now."On the likelihood of Congress and the President taking action on renewables this year, he was also optimistic:
"The challenges wind companies talk about now are going to get cleared up this year. You’re going to know by the end of this year what you’ve got. By the end of the year, legislation will be passed that’s beyond any sort of energy legislation you’ve seen to get us off foreign oil. People want this energy issue fixed and I believe this Congress is going to make that happen."Photo credit: Joshua Lott