Here’s my problem with Pickens (who I admire, really). He went out and funded a big marketing campaign promoting a pamphlet, not a plan, that supported a natural gas distribution business he is a primary investor in, and then a proposition on the California ballot which would benefit… a natural gas distribution business he is a primary investor in. In addition to natural gas, Pickens is also behind Mesa Energy, the giant wind farm company that launched earlier this year and has yet to build a wind farm, although that as well would have benefited from another CA ballot proposition.
Now we see that Pickens’ appetite for alternative energy at any cost actually has limits, namely cheap oil and tight global credit markets are causing Pickens to suddenly get tight fisted. What was lost in Pickens’ folksy southern drawl laden pitch was the notion that creating public policy conditions favorable to him would allow him to expand these companies with debt rather than his own capital, which was a departure from what he was telling everyone in the many interviews he was giving.
Boone in July launched a public campaign, said to be funded with $57 million of Boone’s money, to wean the U.S. off oil imports through a massive investment in wind energy and conversion to natural gas for vehicles.
Speaking at a Forbes Energy Conference on Wednesday, Boone said he has had to delay financing the project. But he characterized it as a temporary setback.
None of this is inherently dishonest, and at no point did Pickens ever suggest he wasn’t trying to take advantage of the public policy court of popular opinion to achieve his goals. It is duplicitous nonetheless because he is attempting to circumvent economic markets through buying of public policy markets. This is just more of the same when it comes to energy, and in many ways is no different than corn farmers in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska using the energy debate as a way of ensuring a business for biofuel while at the same time penalizing sugar cane based ethanol being imported in from South America.