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.
New York Times reporter Joe Nocera and I taped this interesting episode of the Pickens Podcast shortly after our joint appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival. This is a wide-ranging conversation with a little focus on natural gas.
For a recent Times article, Joe and I talked about how I approach risk – and how I have my whole life. In this podcast, Joe asked me about the effect of natural gas selling for about $2.80 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf). When we started the Pickens Plan back in 2008, it was at $12.70 per Mcf.
If we could have gotten the NatGas Act passed back in 2013 and 2014, which provided a tax credit – not a subsidy – for truckers to move to natural gas, we would be sowing the fruits today.
One of the biggest problems we face is that there is not a single point of responsibility for energy policy. We have a Department of Energy, but we also have the Commerce Department, State Department, Interior Department, EPA, Congress, and the White House, all of which have a say in different segments of oil exploration, imports and exports, production, refining, and transmission.
I think you’ll find this conversation interesting and fun. It’s also a good summary on where we have been and where we are now on energy.
Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.
The Pickens Podcast this week is all about higher education – why it’s important and who should pay for it. I went into this discussion with Jack DeGioia, President of Georgetown University – a private college; and Eduardo Padrón, President of Miami-Dade College which offers students post-secondary opportunities from certificate programs to associate degrees to full bachelor degrees.
These two college presidents had the tough task of trying to convince me that a college education should be available to any student that wants one.
They came pretty close.
Their best argument was this one: Of the 11.6 million jobs created in the U.S. since the recession, only 80,000 have gone to high school graduates. The rest went to people with post-secondary certificates and degrees. Then they told me that in the next decade we will have 11 million unfilled jobs that require post-secondary education. We can’t afford NOT to provide it.
President Padrón said that 100 years ago, “we were having this same national discussion over whether free public education from kindergarten through high school was a universal right and a public good. We’re having that same discussion in the technologically advanced world of the 21st century today.”
Listen to this fascinating discussion. I’d be interesting in hearing if, like me, you found their arguments not just interesting, but compelling.
Tom Brokaw, legendary journalist with NBC News, and Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, are my guests on this week’s episode of the Pickens Podcast. They have teamed up to build a world-class Public Service Academy to create a next-gen class of young Americans who want to change the arc of civilian service to America.
The idea is to produce civilian leadership in the same way we produce military leaders from West Point, Annapolis, and the other military service academies.
In the same way that attendance at a military academy is fully funded, students at the civilian academy are granted full scholarships – all the costs of attending. According to President Crow, that amounts to $35,000 for every out-of-state student per year. And in the same way, the students agree to serve two years in public service.
Tom Brokaw added that less than one percent of the population is in the active military and “sent into harm’s way.” He said that was undemocratic and the leadership institute will spread the concept of public service to a far broader segment of the population. That will allow civilians to make “some sacrifices” on behalf of the nation without having to join the military.
At ASU, the students train side-by-side with ROTC members to cross-pollinate between the civilians and military.
When the system is fully up and running, graduates of public service academies can add a dimension to the work that the military does with local populations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the subject of college education generally, President Crow said that 50% of young people who start college never finish. Half of those who have received Pell Grants (“a half-trillion dollars”) leave school with no degree and no certificate of any kind. This program, if adopted across the nation, can add thousands per year to the rolls of young people whose college career ended with success instead of failure.
Tune in for this important discussion about the future of higher education and the future of public service. Subscribe to the Pickens Podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes.
Get ready for a great conversation with Jane Harman, who served nine terms in Congress and is now president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Jane is also on the Presidential Debates Commission, which is the non-partisan group that helps structure the presidential debates.
Jane gave me some great pointers for Monday night’s debate at Hofstra. I’ll be watching it in Dallas. And Jane? She’ll have a front-row seat!
“Donald Trump is the most unpopular candidate ever nominated by a major political party in America. The second most unpopular is Hillary Clinton.”
That’s what Karen Tumulty said about the 2016 election during our recent conversation for the Pickens Podcast. Karen is a senior political reporter for the Washington Post. She also moderated one of the few debates between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Karen covered business and economics for the LA Times back in the 1980s when I made a run at buying Unocal – the major oil company. She said, “you couldn’t write a story about Boone Pickens without using the word ‘Raider’.”
Now she is writing a biography of Nancy Reagan. “Nancy Reagan was not only powerful,” Karen said, “but for perhaps the first time in history didn’t care who knew it. This will be a very different book than those that were written in the 1990s.”
I think you’ll agree this is a very interesting peek behind the scenes with one of America’s most respected political reporters, Karen Tumulty. Download the podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.
General Flynn, one of our nation’s most senior intelligence officers, was the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, chair of the Military Intelligence Board, and senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command.
He told me, if he had the power, the first thing he would want to know is “the unvarnished, ground truth about what is going on in Afghanistan and Iraq.” He said that U.S. troops have never been defeated on the battlefield in the region. But, those in charge of the political dimension of this decade-and-a-half conflict have not demonstrated the same resolve, willingness, or determination.
General Flynn doesn’t mince words. He said, “the brutality of this ideology is sickening. It makes no sense to pretend that ‘radical Islam’ is a ‘peaceful religion. This is a foe that has declared war on the United States of America.”
On energy, he said we are moving toward a new economic theory where the world can depend on the U.S. for its energy security, rather than the Middle East or Russia. America could provide energy security for Europe for the foreseeable future.
He repeated my mantra that we only get about 10 percent of the oil that comes through the Strait of Hormuz every day, but Americans pay 100 percent of the costs of its protection. Flynn rhetorically asked: “Have you ever seen a Chinese aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf?”
General Flynn said he was a big fan of nuclear energy for an interesting reason: Because of its use in desalinating water, which is a growing problem throughout the world.
Tune in for an interesting discussion with a man who has truly been “in the arena” for most of his adult life. Join me in my conversation with Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn by downloading the podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes, and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.
One of the giants of the energy business, John Hofmeister, sat down with me for this week’s episode of the Pickens Podcast. In addition to being the senior executive for Shell Oil in the United States, John has held key leadership positions at General Electric, Nortel and AlliedSignal (now Honeywell International).
John Hofmeister believes that world oil prices will be $80 per barrel by the end of 2016 and will be at or near $100 per barrel by the end of 2017. He thinks India, China, and the African continent all need to use oil to grow their economies.
At the same time, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries are “going broke” by over-producing to try and force the U.S. out of its leadership position. “People say it only costs $5 per barrel for the Saudis to produce,” Hofmeister said, “but that doesn’t include all of the costs of supporting its people including the people it needs to import to actually do the work.”
Hofmeister shares with us his top three energy-related goals:
1. Start a North American Energy Alliance under NAFTA. Mexico has oil, but needs our technology. We can trade technology for favorable oil prices.
2. More natural gas for heavy duty trucks and also look to LNG and other natural gas-derived liquids for POVs: Cars, light trucks, and SUVs.
3. Have politicians stop thinking like politicians. A political timeline is 2 years – until the next election. A typical energy timeline is 30 years. Politicians have to recognize the need for long-term thinking as regards energy.
John Hofmeister is a proven leader and proven thinker. Join our conversation by downloading the podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.
One of the most important biographers in America, Walter Isaacson, sat down with me for this week’s episode of the Pickens Podcast. Walter is the head of The Aspen Institute, and presides over the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is currently underway in Aspen. The Aspen Institute has a great deal of influence over the thinking and direction of some of our best business people, politicians, and academics.
When I asked him what is the biggest change he’s seen over the past 20 years, Walter went directly to the vast number of choices that individual consumers of news have available. “There were three or four weekly magazines; a similar number of national newspapers and three networks.” As Walter Cronkite said at the end of every newscast: “That’s the way it is.” There’s no one who can say that anymore.
Now, he said, a constant stream of information is available to support whatever you thought in the first place. “If you think the President was born in Kenya, there will be a site that will tell you ‘that’s true.’”
Add cable news and talk radio and “we have less of a common bond of shared information,” Isaacson told me. “We can all have our different opinions, but we should all share the same facts.”
Walter has written best-selling biographies of Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, Henry Kissinger, and, of course, Steve Jobs. He told me that the most successful people – the men and women who have changed the course of history – were those who could “stand at the intersection of art and technology.” Leonardo Da Vinci, for instance, is known as a great artist, but thought of himself as an engineer.
He told me something he learned from Steve Jobs that surprised him – but didn’t surprise me. When Isaacson asked Jobs what he considered to be his most important invention, Jobs didn’t say the iPhone or Mac. He said it was learning to put together teams that could go on inventing great products.
I’ve said many times, “You win with a team. And, I’m a good team builder.”
I think you’ll enjoy my discussion with one of America’s most important thinkers. Download the podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.
Retired four-star General James Conway is a former Commandant of the Marine Corps and one of our best thinkers on military AND energy strategy.
During this week’s Pickens Podcast, General Conway told me that if we want to get rid of ISIS we need to arm and train the Sunni Tribes and the Kurds. If we did that, this thing would be over in a month. But the Iraqi government won’t let us do that because it is totally infiltrated by Iranians.
He told me that ISIS is the tactical problem. The strategic problem is Islamic extremism within the region that we now know we cannot stamp out. The leaders of the nations in the region now understand they are going to have to do this.
On energy, General Conway said the U.S. has become a puppet being manipulated by the Saudis. He said that the U.S. — with its oil, natural gas, and coal reserves — is the biggest energy powerhouse on Earth and yet we don’t have a national energy plan.
An energy plan is really a national security plan, he said.
I think you’ll find this conversation to be one that you’ll watch and listen to multiple times. To hear what one of America’s smartest Generals has to say, download the podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.