Monday, August 17, 2009

Boone & Ted's Excellent Adventure

It sounds like the set-up to a bad joke, "Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens go into a bar..."

Only, in this case it isn't a bar, but another stop on the Ted & Boone media tour to promote Pickens' (and Turners's) investment portfolios.

For several months Turner and Pickens have been making the rounds talking about natural gas and renewable energy. You know all about the Pickens Plan, and Turner's reputation preceeds him on just about every front, but today's co-bylined oped in the Wall Street Journal rehashes the same arguments that they have been making ad nauseum, with a few new facts and some good pull-quotes.

Here's the lede (stop me if you've heard this before):

"Renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas are the basis of a new strategy the world needs to create a cleaner and more secure future. And the global transformation to a clean-energy economy may be the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century."

But here is something new-- a "cash for clunkers" proposal for power plants:

"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."

It's no secret that Pickens, in particular, has investments that span the entire natural gas spectrum and he stands to make a gazillion dollars if even a fraction of the Pickens Plan is adopted, but from a policy point of view, one has to consider if this is just a get-richer-quick scheme or if it has merit?

As we posted a couple of weeks ago, targeting only stationary sources (power plants) when, by Pickens's and Turner's own admission 70% of imported oil gets slurped up by vehicles, makes it kind of a specious argument...