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Need for U.S. energy plan: urgent, or ‘hogwash’?

Does the U.S. need a national energy policy, or is the country better served by the marketplace?lng-300x229

Oilman turned natural gas cheerleader (and prominent investor) T. Boone Pickens says it’s an outrage the U.S. doesn’t have a formal, long-range plan.

His particular bone to pick is with OPEC, or rather with American dependence on nations who, he reasonably argues, support people who want to destroy us.

Transferring hard-won wealth, at alarming and increasing rates, to the nation’s sworn enemies is simply crazy—and must be curtailed, Pickens insists.

But where’s the leadership on this?

“From Nixon forward, presidents have said, ‘elect me and we’ll be energy independent,’” Pickens said this week, speaking at the Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference in Dallas. “The media never asked them what their plan was.”

And Pickens can be persuasive, credible both as a genuine American character in the great maverick tradition and as an astute businessman not afraid to leverage a substantial fortune to pursue his vision.

Of course, the particular national policy he’s lobbying for has a lot to do with utilizing the vast reserves of good ol’ American natural gas.

And just because Pickens stands to profit handsomely from an energy policy geared toward weaning the U.S. from OPEC oil doesn’t mean it’s a wrongheaded notion.

Except that it is wrong, on a couple of counts: Not only is a national energy plan unnecessary, implementing one would likely be harmful. That’s the opinion of global energy expert Robert Bryce, who also spoke to fleet executives and industry suppliers gathered for CVOC.

“Even in the absence of an energy policy in the U.S., we’re the envy of every other country in the world. To the idea that we need to achieve X, Y and Z just to reduce our oil imports, my response is, ‘hey, we’re doing great,’” Bryce said. “The market is moving to natural gas on its own. Why do we need more government intervention to muck it up? Let the best fuel win and get the government out of it as much as possible.”

Indeed, the American solution is “free markets and free people,” and making smart decisions in a global trading economy, Bryce says.

“This idea of energy independence is a load of hogwash. We have no interest in being energy independent,” Bryce said. “We are energy interdependent today and we will be tomorrow. It’s not something to be feared, it’s something to be celebrated.”

As Bryce points out, in May U.S. oil exports were 3.5 million barrels per day, making the U.S. one of the world’s largest exporters. Additionally, he calls the U.S. “the OPEC of coal,” and worldwide demand will only soar in coming years.

“We’re integrated in the global economy and we should be focusing on integration,” Bryce said. “We want to trade with the rest of the world.”

Bryce is even more outspoken on the need to embrace coal, and on the futility of looking to wind and solar power to meet global energy needs.

That’s a discussion I’ll follow up on as well.

Mark Morin IP owner worlds 1st aerodynamic mudflap
Mark Morin IP owner worlds 1st aerodynamic mudflap

OEM's have spent years and 100's of millions if not Billions on  engine powertrain R & D(tech only to eek out what seems to be a meager  3-4 mpg  fuel economy gain. Where even a .5% FE savings represents a whopping $500/year savings per truck equally as important has been aerodynamic enhancements... these too are approaching the threshold of being exhausted too....  now think NGV ( i.e. HPDI Tec by Wesport ) with new diesel power train and engine tech, with same improved aerodynamics you now not only get the benefit of all that money spent by optimizing maximum MPG .... On NGV you're going the same distance at 30-40% less cost . NGV is a no brainer. Yes Infrastructure is expensive ... if you got to pick one .... which in the short we must  .... Natural Gas I IMHO its the only logical way to go !    

Cliff Downing
Cliff Downing

What is an outrage is T "Bone" Pickens on a number of levels.  He is good in some areas, but rather eccentric in other areas and he has his fingers in the NG game, so his motives are not as pure as the wind driven snow.  We only started having real problems with energy, when the government decided it needed a Department of Energy.   I have no problem with the taxpayers giving "a leg up" to an emerging technology or energy source that shows particularly good promise, but that's it.  If after the initial foray into the market the new item doesn't cut the mustard, then it should fall by the wayside.  And this nonsense that Ethanol corrodes engines is pure poppycock.  I, and many others, have taken gasoline vehicles into 300,000 mile territory without a fuel related issue and we have had E10, at a minimum, in them since the late 70's in my area.  Currently running E85 in all my vehicles with no fuel related problems.  And Ethanol has had no government subsidies for over 2 years and is very cost effective compared to regular gasoline.... $2.39 for E85 and $3.46 for regular in my area.  Even with reduced mpg from E85, cost per mile is substantially less for E85.

Longtime Fan
Longtime Fan

They would love to see 'Less trucks on on our highways" and are doing their best to regulate our industry to death.  They would move transportation to their large donors...The Rails.  They mandate fuel that corrodes our engines (ethanol) with zero-net-energy gain in order to keep the votes/$ from Big Chem Industry...such futile business!  These  are all cases where Government costs us all dearly in clearly futile legislation.


Our level of competitive maneuvering has paid off.  Rail can't touch the efficiency of Trucking in an age of on-time inventory.  The nimble character of the trucking industry is what keeps it alive.  We are at the base of the economy and the backbone of America.  And good, hard-working, solid folks as well.


The USA got by for many years without a national "policy".  It seems that the US government wants to "manage" energy production.  If the current administration was authorized by law to control energy, it would put the coal companies out of business, restrict oil and gas production and reward those windmill and solar panel companies who gave campaign money to Socialist-Democrat Party candidates.


Is Ethanol made with corn? Because corn is subsidised by the government and has been for decades.

Kevin Jones is Senior Editor, Trucking Media, and writes from his home in Little Rock, Ark. His Fleet Street blog features whatever strikes his fancy and has at least a little connection to trucks, or drivers, or highways. Or David Allan Coe. (Google "the perfect country and western song" if you're not nearly as old as Kevin is.) You can also keep up with Kevin by following his Twitter feed (@KevinJonesCCJ) or just drop him a line: