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Junk Science? Debunking the Half-Truths on Pickens' Plan

Steven Milloy prides himself on tearing down individuals who genuinely want to make a difference, so why not target perhaps America’s most forward looking oil oracle, T. Boone Pickens, who has recently launched the Pickens Plan to save America from itself by reforming its aging energy policy?

Reading through Milloy’s most recent attack on Pickens, I was overwhelmed by his lack of logic and wondered what plan Milloy has to wean ourselves off foreign oil. Of course, Milloy never outlines a plan because he’s not an energy expert, and it’s clearly not in his job description to be positive or solution-oriented.

Milloy, in a nutshell, criticizes Pickens for highlighting Iran’s recent energy actions to conserve oil (i.e., rationing fuel, advancing nuclear power potential and converting cars to run on natural gas) so that the country can sell oil to the West at $120 a barrel.

Not only does Milloy go out of his way to confuse his readership by making an absurd and flawed assertion that Iran’s efforts are aimed at reducing gasoline as opposed to oil use, he goes on to criticize Iran’s actions to conserve its use of oil as a “poor role model.”

Last time I checked, gasoline is produced from oil. Conserving oil and switching one’s cars to natural gas, a fuel that doesn’t need to be refined, sure makes a lot of sense if you have a lack of refining capacity and depend upon oil sales to keep the country’s lights on.

Milloy also assaults America’s natural gas supply, acting as if natural gas is already a scarce commodity in the U.S. and claiming that adding natural gas vehicles into the mix would just tip us over the edge.

Reality dictates a very different picture when it comes to America’s oil and natural gas supply. Today, the U.S. imports roughly 70 percent of its oil because we only have 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. As for natural gas, we import 12 percent of our use from Canada and 3 percent from foreign countries.

In other words, 97 percent of the natural gas we consume comes from North America, not the Middle East as Milloy would have his readership believe.

Of course, these figures don’t even account for the natural gas shale reserves that Chesapeake and other American natural gas providers are now able to access.

Such discoveries have extended our proven reserves from 85 to 120 years. Plug in the Pickens Plan, and wind power further reduces our current consumption of natural gas because it is replaced by a renewable resource. Suddenly, America is awash in natural gas, and what better way to use it than to help bridge us to a more sustainable energy future?

Ultimately, the Pickens Plan will carve out $300 billion that we currently send overseas at today’s prices. If that’s a plan that doesn’t make enough sense, I’m all ears as to what Milloy proposes.

So what say you, Milloy? It’s time to put up, or …you know.


Warren I. Mitchell is the former chairman of Southern California Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric.