By Raymond Pratt
Nevada has been no stranger to the green energy controversy for a few years now. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) has addressed the energy issue by backing Cap-and-Trade legislation and attempting to erect expansive wind farms near the city of Searchlight. Three years ago Harry Reid created the National Clean Energy Summit and held it right in Las Vegas.
The Summit, usually a gala event packed with celebrities, politicians and fans of anything and everything “green,” was decidedly lacking in A-List talent this year. The 2009 event featured former president Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. This year, according to Reid adviser Tom Brede, the focus is more on the business of creating green energy sources rather than star power. And the top draw, other than Harry Reid himself, is oil and natural gas magnate T. Boone Pickens.
“The fact that we have President Obama’s top economic adviser, the head of the United States Chamber of Commerce, T. Boone Pickens and major CEOs demonstrates a more important star power: the power to get it done,” Brede said, “That’s especially important right now as we work to diversify Nevada’s economy by reaching across the political aisle and working with the major financiers, businesses and labor leaders who are instrumental in maintaining the momentum we need to fuel the clean-energy industry in Nevada and across the nation.”
During the Conference, Pickens went over his plan for renewable energy production, a 10-year plan to fund wind, natural gas and transmission capabilities with the goal of producing 20 percent of the nation’s energy from wind generation.
With spending in Washington being at an all-time high, there’s little reason for hope of a comprehensive energy plan to pass anytime soon. Political battling across the two parties has been commonplace as GOP defenses rally to keep the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda at bay. But Pickens is well-received on both sides of the aisle.
Well, perhaps a little more with Republicans, after all it was Pickens’ money that funded the “Swift Boat” campaign that sank John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. Also, Pickens seemed to be appealing to Republicans when he made this statements during the Clean Energy conference. “How can you use oil from the enemy that is dirty and more expensive? I am telling you, we are going to go down in history as the dumbest crowd that ever was.”
Cap-and-Trade was touted as a means of generating funds for the purpose of developing green energy sources by selling carbon emission credits to large businesses. But, it’s popularity has been waning with the approach of mid-term elections. Now, its looking like the over $600 million in revenue it was supposed to raise to fund green energy projects will have to found elsewhere. As an alternative, Reid announced that a more benevolent bill will soon be introduced to address the situation. That bill will be based on the plan proposed by T. Boone Pickens.
The Pickens Plan , said to incentivize natural domestic energy sources, is a disappointment for hardcore environmentalists, who as of 2008 had high hopes for a far more comprehensive energy plan. But in 2010, something is better than nothing, according to Reid and Pickens.
The Pickens Plan is all about shedding America’s dependence on foreign oil. To that end he is in favor of so-called “green energy” sources, but in no way does it qualify Pickens as a card-carrying tree-hugger. Pickens is also in favor of drilling offshore in Alaska, and the construction of more nuclear power plants. According to Pickens, America depends on foreign sources for more than two thirds of its oil needs. In 1970 the United States imported about 24% of its needed oil, today that number is close to 65%. Not a trend we should be trying to continue.
The Harry Reid - T. Boone Pickens association makes for an unlikely alliance. Pickens has been busily re-defining his image from “Oil Tycoon” to “Renewable Energy Champion.” He is aware of current energy trends heading for “green” and renewable sources and moving away from fossil fuel sources. Pickens and Harry Reid have both shown a keen ability to adapt when necessary for survival. It comes as no surprise to Beat Reid that these two characters would form an alliance. They both know how to survive when the weather gets stormy.