Blog

Jul 8 2017

Inside the Pickens Plan with Peter McCollum and Jason Huntsberry

Jul 8, 2017

Nine years ago today, we launched the Pickens Plan. We knew we had a great idea, and people across the country agreed. We’d held focus groups and found that Americans knew about the problem, but saw that the country lacked an energy plan. They were hungry for something that would work, a specific energy plan that included a little bit of everything — solar, wind, and natural gas.

For the final podcast on the history of the Pickens Plan, I talk with Peter McCollum, strategic communicator and Partner at Whistle Lake Public Affairs, and Jason Huntsberry, President & CEO of Schenck Foods Co. Although they referred to themselves as “little cogs in a big machine,” they were a major part of the tight-knit team that makes the Pickens Plan tick.

They discuss with me the process of going from idea to plan, navigating bumps and setbacks, and of course, learning a thing or two about the future of energy along the way.

Jason recalls “being in Kansas and seeing 3,000 people in the middle of the day, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, showing up to meet an 80-year-old billionaire from Texas to hear about renewable energy. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

That’s the kind of support I’ve seen across the country over the past nine years. The national conversation around energy has moved forward because you understand this simple, but important idea: If it works, let’s use it. If it’s American, we’ll use it. And it’s all coming together and happening now.

Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.

– Boone

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Jun 6 2017

Inside the Pickens Plan with Amy Weiss and Rich Galen

Jun 6, 2017

I’ve always strongly believed that a good idea can bring Americans together for a greater cause. Washington is as divided as it has ever been, and it has become difficult to set politics aside and get things done. But fortunately the Pickens Plan benefited from a bipartisan team that came together to promote a plan that has our nation’s best interests in mind.

For the latest episode of the Pickens Podcast, I sat down with Rich Galen, a columnist and former press secretary for U.S. Senators Dan Quayle (R-IN) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), and Amy Weiss, former White House Deputy Press Secretary to President Bill Clinton, press secretary and campaign manager for U.S. Representative Mike Synar (D-OK) and CEO of Weiss Public Affairs. These two have reached across the aisle to help make the Pickens Plan work. It just goes to show how successful you can be when you can look past personal politics to focus on a mission.

During our conversation, we remember some of the ways the Pickens Plan brought people together, whether it was in Washington or on the set of The Daily Show. We talk about what a great team can accomplish – all you need is a good idea.

This episode is the third in a series on the history of the Pickens Plan, where members of my team sit down to tell stories from over the years and discuss how the Pickens Plan has worked for almost ten years.

Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.

– Boone

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May 11 2017

Inside the Pickens Plan Campaign with Tammy Haddad and Heather Lauer

May 11, 2017

With just around 3.5 million members from all walks of life, the Pickens Plan has been a success thanks largely to you. But the Pickens Plan has benefited from a great team behind the scenes.

Now, in the second episode of a series on the history of the Pickens Plan, members of my team sit down with me to discuss how the plan has worked for just shy of a decade.

Joining me this time are Tammy Haddad, who is President & CEO of Haddad Media and has produced not only this but every episode of my podcast, and Heather Lauer, a social media expert.

These two have helped get out the word about the Pickens Plan since I was drawing it up on whiteboards and restaurant napkins. Now, they’ve moved out from behind the scenes to tell stories from nine years of the plan and to discuss the success we’ve had since my idea in the summer of 2008.

We recall meetings with Gov. Sarah Palin, Gov. George Pataki and Mike Bloomberg in New York. We discuss how the plan has grown and become a success, thanks to support from all ages and both sides of the aisle.

Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.

– Boone

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Apr 27 2017

Inside the Pickens Plan Campaign with Tom Synhorst and Jay Rosser

Apr 27, 2017

I have preached my whole life about the importance of building a great team. So here is the first in a series of podcasts with the people who actually make the Pickens Plan run.

Joining me for this episode are Jay Rosser, who has been my right hand man for 15 years and serves as my VP, Public Affairs, and seasoned political expert Tom Synhorst, who served as the Campaign Manager. When I decided to launch the Pickens Plan, Tom was my first call and first hire. He’s the hidden hand in American politics — a man who works tirelessly behind the scenes. This is likely his video debut.

We reminisce about the beginnings of the Plan in the summer of 2008, how we were importing $1 billion of foreign oil (it’s about half that today), how we had no energy plan and no prospects for one from either candidate, Barack Obama or John McCain, and how we focused on converting heavy-duty trucks from diesel to natural gas right from the get-go.

I think you’ll appreciate this insiders’ look at how it all got started.

Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.

— Boone

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Apr 14 2017

It’s okay to be wrong. But learn from it.

Apr 14, 2017

Acknowledge your mistakes. Some can hurt and be costly. I know all too well. Just make sure you remember the doors that smashed your fingers the first time and be more careful the next trip through.

Col. Edwin Drake birthed the first oil boom and the world’s commercial oil industry in 1859 with a well near Oil Creek in Titusville, Pennsylvania. I know, I was there.

Seriously, I’ve been in the oil business for 60 years. I know a lot about it; CNBC has even dubbed me the Oracle of Oil. But I’m not perfect. In this business, no one can be.

In The First Billion is the Hardest, published in 2008, I dedicated a whole chapter to what I considered an all-important truth: that the world was running out of cheap oil. Turns out I was jumping the gun on the whole Peak Oil theory by not anticipating that technology was opening up reserves we previously thought could not be retrieved. Of course, I wasn’t alone.

Further back in my career, I didn’t think that the economics could make extracting Canada’s Oil Sands feasible. That’s the same Canada Oil Sands that, some decades later, Time magazine described as that country’s “greatest buried treasure.”

Canada has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Of its 173 billion barrels of oil reserves, 170 billion are located in Alberta, about 168 billion of which are today recoverable from bitumen. Oil sands are a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen. Bitumen is oil that is too heavy or thick to flow or be pumped without being diluted or heated.

I’ve done quite a bit of business in Canada, particularly early in my career. I was living in Alberta in 1967 (at age 39) when Suncor (then called the Great Canadian Oil Sands) launched the first project to produce synthetic crude oil from the sands in Fort Murray, Alberta.

At the end of the day, I’d occasionally stop by the Petroleum Club, where four or five of my fellow geologists would be ensconced talking shop. On this particular day, we were there scoffing at the idea of this government project, mostly because we couldn’t see any way it could make any money.

One of our crew, my good friend Harley Hotchkiss, leaned over to me and said, “You know, Boone, for this thing to work, you’d have to have $5 oil.” We both laughed at the idea, as the price of oil was $2.20 a barrel at that time.

I had first met Harley in Calgary in 1957 when I was just starting out as an independent. He was in the oil department of the Canadian Bank of Commerce at the time. We were both about the same age and geologists; he was schooled at Michigan State University. We hit it off right away.

We ended up setting up shop across the hall from each other a couple years later when we both were hunting projects in Calgary. We even shared information, well cards, production cards, and electricity logs — pretty unheard of in what was a competitive, distrustful industry.

We would go on to do deals together as we became fast friends. We made a lot of money together. We in turn each gave a lot to philanthropic causes, sometimes hitting each other up for a cause either of us was working. He would later serve on our Mesa Petroleum Board of Directors for about six years in the early ‘80s, when we were involved in some complicated activities.

But back on that day in 1967, we were right for the day but not for the near future. Our imaginations couldn’t visualize $40 a barrel oil. But it would arrive, and transform Fort McMurray into a boomtown. (For example, total Canadian oil sands production reached about 2.3 million barrels per day in 2014, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator.)

I learned early on in my career to analyze well, assess risks and prospective rewards, and keep things simple. I’ve also learned you can be smart and make the wrong analysis based on the facts you have on hand at any one time. BP Capital did invest big in the Canadian Oil Sands, beginning in 2001.

I’m regularly amazed by the oil and gas industry’s continual advances in technology, research, and innovation. It’s what has made America great, and the industry will continue to prove its greatness under President Donald Trump.

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Mar 10 2017

How Volkswagen Is Shaping America’s Energy Future

Mar 10, 2017

Volkswagen, the storied German automaker, pleaded guilty today to three felony counts as part of a $4.3 billion settlement reached with the Justice Department in January over the automaker’s massive diesel emissions scandal.

There’s a great deal of irony in this, and a great opportunity for America’s energy security. Here’s why.

Back when President Obama rolled into the White House for the first time, I was in the midst of an aggressive campaign to address the stranglehold placed on our national security and our economy by addiction to OPEC oil.

The crux of that plan was to expand renewables (wind and solar) in power generation, and replace dirtier-burning and more expensive OPEC oil with our abundant supplies of cleaner-burning domestic natural gas in the transportation sector. The overarching goal was to break the stranglehold OPEC had on our economic and national security.

Washington lawmakers refused to foot the bill for America to go down that path. Now, in an ironic twist of fate, with the VW transgression, we have the Germans poised to finance it for us. And we’re fools if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity.

In 2015, the German automaker, Volkswagen, was found to have installed software on its diesel-powered vehicles that provided false emissions data — data that understated the emissions their vehicles were actually producing.

I’ve always been skeptical that diesel can ever burn as clean as alternatives such as electric cars or heavy-duty trucks fueled by natural gas. The lifecycle costs to produce diesel — from production to refining and out of the tailpipe — are just too great. Going to such lengths to falsify emission data just reinforces my skepticism, and my anger.

Since getting caught, the company has agreed to pay fines of $16 billion to settle claims for cheating. These fines will be paid to the U.S. government and shared among the states. In addition, owners of VW vehicles and the dealers who sold them will share in the proceeds.

We’re not talking chump change here. Texas alone, where I live, is set to get $191 million.

This flap once again underscores the need to get diesel vehicles off the road when and where we can, both for air quality purposes and to reduce our dependence on OPEC oil. One of the most toxic emissions produced by diesel engines is Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). It is generated by all internal combustion engines, but a new natural gas engine developed by Cummins-Westport produced 90 percent less NOx emissions than new diesel-powered trucks. That engine is available today.

State regulators ultimately tasked with spending the VW settlement should have some guidance from those with history, experience and knowledge — including industry, independent experts and environmental authorities.

First, a majority of the funds should be used for vehicles which already perform below current federal NOx limits, such as the Cummins Wesport engine mentioned above.

Second, all vehicles performing below federal NOx limits should be treated equally. States should look to decrease the number of diesel-powered vehicles on the road — especially heavy-duty trucks — and replace them with trucks powered by natural gas.

Why not go right to batteries? Because batteries will not move an 18-wheeler, and they cost at least five times more than comparable diesel-powered trucks. So, while electric cars are all the rage, batteries are not a substitute fuel source for over-the-road trucks.

Finally, while there will be justifiable efforts to use these funds on state fleets, it is even more important to find ways to allow private-sector fleets access to these funds. In fact, that’s where the bulk of the money should go.

Keeping in mind this settlement money is coming from a corporation and not the taxpayers, there will be no shortage of ideas from state regulators on how to spend these funds. States should show leadership by not using it solely to upgrade state fleet vehicles.

The reason is simple. If states use this money to replace aging fleets, this will be a “one-and-done” deal. On the other hand, if the money is used to provide incentives for the public and private sectors to purchase new, natural gas-powered vehicles, the positive effects on reducing NOx emissions will be magnified many times over the years.

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Mar 2 2017

Climb Out Of The “We’ve Always Done It That Way”​ Rut

Mar 2, 2017

Listening to President Trump last night deliver his first joint address to Congress – and his commitment to expanding America’s energy renaissance – reminded me of a story.

I’ve been a member at Augusta National Golf Club since August 1982. At Augusta, the club assigns you a caddy, and that guy will be your caddy as long as you live.

I’ve got a great one, Larry, who is highly skilled and always respectful.

One day as I was playing, I asked Larry, “We’ve got the best golf club in the world. Why do we close it in May for the summer?”

Out of character, Larry looked at me, and I could see in his expression that the man he thought was so smart was not so sharp after all.

“Mr. Pickens, that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

I’ve never stomached that kind of answer from any of my employees, but I didn’t say anything more to Larry on the subject.

I thought about this exchange last night, and the stark contrast in President Trump’s address and the comments just the week before by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters when she threw out some harsh views for the president’s cabinet, calling them “a bunch of scumbags.”

She referred to the president’s supporters as a “Kremlin clan, all of them connected to the oil and gas industry.” The California Democrat was particularly pointed in her criticism of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian oil ties.

Prior to his confirmation, I wrote that Rex Tillerson would make a great Secretary of State. And I think he will.

When is operating successfully in foreign countries, as Secretary Tillerson did when he was CEO of Exxon, a negative? It ought to be a positive.

I’ve been in the oil industry for 60 years as it helped America find great success by producing abundant, cheap oil.

Bringing Tillerson’s global expertise to the Washington mindset is a win for America.

I admire that President Trump is making us try something different. I have always believed that it’s important to show a new look periodically. Predictability can lead to failure. I think we’ve seen that in Washington.

Let’s see where some new approaches take us.

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Jan 31 2017

Transport Topics: Natural Gas Advancements

Jan 31, 2017

For this edition of the Pickens Podcast, I went to the vault and pulled out a very interesting conversation between Fred Smith, Founder, Chairman, CEO & President of FedEx, Chris Spear, President and CEO of American Trucking Associations, and me.

Under Fred’s incredible leadership, FedEx has been the pointed end of the transportation fuel spear in moving his heavy-duty trucks from diesel to domestic natural gas. Fred tells us in this interview that FedEx Cargo and FedEx Ground drove 3 billion miles across the United States in 2015.

As I have been telling you for almost a decade, the benefits of natural gas as a transportation fuel are: It’s cheaper than diesel, it’s cleaner than diesel, it’s abundant, and it’s ours.

As one of the world’s largest consumers of transportation fuel, Fred also points out that because of its wide availability, natural gas has another advantage over diesel: It is price stable. Fred told me that just before the recession hit, oil was selling for $146 per barrel. This week oil is selling for about $53 per barrel. It is far easier for a major user to plan ahead when you know that the price of your transportation fuel will be stable.

Fred also talks about the new natural gas engines that are available today that are providing better mileage and cleaner operations, saying a new 8.9 liter natural gas engine from Cummins Westport, Inc. meets Nitrous Oxide emissions standards that are not required by the federal government for seven years.

Some of what you will hear, you’ve heard before, but it’s a great refresher. Much of this is new information you have never heard.

As we move into a new era of the way our Federal government looks at energy and environment, listening to this conversation will be a very valuable use of your time.

Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.

– Boone

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Jan 19 2017

Special Inauguration Edition of the Pickens Podcast

Jan 19, 2017

We went back to several of the most interesting conversations we had for the Pickens Podcast series in 2016 and distilled those visits to our discussions of PEOTUS Donald J. Trump. During this Inauguration Season, I think you’ll find these conversations fascinating:

Talk show host Laura Ingraham discussed the rise of Donald Trump and how his common sense connected to voters.

Editor-in-Chief of Forbes, Steve Forbes – a former Presidential candidate himself – talked about how Americans’ “disaffection with the political establishment” opened the door for Donald Trump to come in and “shake things up.”

Businessman Carl Icahn has been named by Donald Trump to be his special advisor to overhaul regulations. During the campaign, we got a glimpse of why Icahn is one of the most important voices in American business today.

Former Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott joined me and talked about Donald Trump as a person, not as a personality.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman and Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, told us during the primary season that “anyone who underestimates Donald Trump has been asleep for the last nine months.”

I hope you enjoy listening to the “greatest hits” of 2016 as much as I enjoyed conducting these interviews.

Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.

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Jan 16 2017

How to Make America Great Again with Domestic Energy Resources

Jan 16, 2017

Forecasting the future is always risky and never easy, but I suppose I’m no stranger to it and my approach is always the same. I listen to smart people, learn everything I can, take stock of what I know, and the use the judgement I’ve built from experience to make a bet.

Over a lifetime in business I’ve had to make a lot of tough calls – right and wrong, and many of them very public. Good calls have made me a lot of money, and I’ve lost my ass on the bad ones.

Fortunately, I’ve been right more often than I’ve been wrong.

However, at 88-years-old, I’m not as concerned with being right about the future as I am with making it better. That’s why I launched The Pickens Plan eight and a half years ago. I knew then I had more history behind me than I did ahead, but I made it my mission to help break our nation’s historic and dangerous dependence on OPEC oil that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security.

Since then, we’ve seen an incredible increase in domestic oil and natural gas production. The incredible ingenuity and innovation of private industry has led to a continued decline not just in the price of natural gas, and American crude oil, but of wind and solar electricity as well. These stunning gains have been achieved despite continued foot-dragging in Washington.

We are still a long way from securing our nation’s energy future and are not without risk of failing. The domestic energy industry has lost nearly a quarter of a million American jobs since its recent peak, and OPEC continues working to maintain control of the market.

America is in the midst of an energy renaissance, and President Trump will have the opportunity to set the nation on a course toward self-sufficiency – our situation is good. Instead of predictions about the future, I offer my advice on how to make it great.

I suggest President Trump pursue an energy plan with two parts:

1. Don’t screw up what we have going for us.

2. Don’t settle for what we’ve done so far.

DON’T SCREW UP

1. Clarity in who makes energy decisions. Currently, decisions about energy are spread out among the President, the Department of Energy, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Congress, to name just a few.

2. Promote hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. There are about 30 oil and natural gas producing states in America. In each of them, fracking has led to an increase in American production to nearly 9.5 million barrels of oil a day of oil, and has increased known recoverable natural gas reserves enough to make the U.S. the world’s leader – more than Qatar, more than Russia, more than Saudi Arabia.

3. Work with industry, not against it. Federal and state agencies should have a policy of working with the oil and gas industry to improve any safety or environmental issues rather than unilaterally imposing new regulations without understanding the full effects, or punishing the industry with new taxes to pay for programs that have nothing to do with energy production.

4. Meet our own energy needs before worrying about other countries. Don’t export oil or natural gas. The best way we can help Europe escape the yoke of dependence on Russian natural gas, and help Mexico maximize its oil resources is by exporting our technology and expertise.

DON’T SETTLE

OPEC is on the run, but they’re playing the long game. They’ve shown they are willing to risk everything to control as much of the world’s oil supply as they can. We still rely on foreign nations for more than six million barrels of oil a day. As long as we remain so dependent, we’re playing OPEC’s game. We need to not just match, but beat OPEC in looking at the long-term. How do we do that?

1. Work with our allies Mexico and Canada to establish a North American Energy Alliance to create an energy powerhouse that will never have to bow to the demands of OPEC again. We can start with approving the building of the Keystone XL pipeline to safely and economically transport Canadian oil to refineries in the U.S. rather than forcing the Canadians to ship that oil to China.

2. Modernize government fleets. Federal, state, county and local fleets should be looking for ways to save taxpayer money, strengthen our economy, and reduce pollution by leading the way in the changeover from gasoline and diesel powered vehicles to cars and light trucks that run on competing fuels that are cheaper and cleaner. The transportation fuels marketplace shouldn’t be monopolistic. Decisions about government fleets should be decided by competitive bidding with full life cycle costs factored in when considering competing technologies. If they did, taxpayer-supported fleets would catch up to the utility, express delivery, and other private sector companies with vehicles that go “home to the barn” every night for central natural gas refueling. In addition to the obvious benefit of lowering costs to taxpayers, the additional demand for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) by government fleets will drive down the cost of manufacturing and increase the rate of innovation for governments and consumers alike.

3. Build the electrical grid of the future. Electric vehicles aren’t going to replace oil and the internal combustion engine overnight. But renewable energy sources have a lot of potential, and we need a power grid capable of connecting those vehicles and everything else to the next generation of electricity generation. A grid designed to protect America against cyber or physical attacks and to promote efficiencies in home, commercial and industrial usage.

4. Continue to research and develop new sources of energy. Wind and solar prices are going to continue to drop, and the middle of America is the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” States like Iowa have embraced wind energy and off-shore wind turbines are fast becoming commercially viable.

5. Remember: Energy is not a free market. Market forces are constantly being manipulated by central governments around the world which control about 70 percent of all oil production. America’s military protects Middle Eastern oil, costing American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year to ensure Europe, India, and China have secure access to oil supplies. The true cost of imported oil is not reflected at the pump. Governments pick energy winners and losers all the time whether it’s serving as the world’s oil police or providing natural gas to Central and Eastern Europe or subsidizing ethanol in the United States. It is time that we pick a winner, too: The United States of America.

This article is part of the LinkedIn Top Voices list, a collection of the must-read writers of the year. Check out more #BigIdeas2017 here.

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Over 3 million Americans have signed up for the Pickens Plan Army.Will you?