| GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS
We Must Act Now.
"There's not much to Sweetwater
except for wild grasses, scraggy mesquite trees and rattlesnakes (Sweetwater hosts its
famous Rattlesnake Roundup each spring). The gently rolling terrain and vegetation make it
ideal for raising cattle, which is what its first settlers did in the 19th century, and
what their descendants do today. A regional oil boom in the 1950s and 1960s poured money
into the area's economy, as have two oil revivals since: one in the 1980s and one now. But
the exciting new industry in town is wind energy. You can
drive for 150 miles along Interstate 20 and never be out of sight of a giant wind turbine,
claims Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham, who does double duty as executive
director of the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium. Were it a country all by itself,
Nolan County, Texas, would rank sixth on the list of wind-energy-producing nations, says
Wortham. Year-round wind conditions, the terrain, low land prices and a small population
make it an ideal location for wind farms. It already produces more wind-generated
electricity in a year than all of California. And the business is growing so fast that he
struggles to define it by numbers. By year's end, there'll be more than 1,500 turbines in
Nolan County, representing a $5 billion investment. In the multicounty Rolling Plains
region, there are already 2,000 operating turbines. Add those operating further west, the
Permian Basin region around Midland and Odessa, and the entire area has more than 3,000
turbines operating, producing about 6,000 megawatts of electricity about equal to
the power produced by two to three nuclear power plants."
"The growth potential is, well, electrifying. New
turbine towers are going up at a rate of three to four a day in the Sweetwater area,
Wortham says. "It depends on the (Texas) Public Utility Commission, but the number
could be 20,000 ultimately," Wortham says. Pickens, who over the past two
years has become the USA's biggest wind-power booster, is quick to note that "there
could be lots of Sweetwaters out there," especially in the nation's midsection, where
winds are ideal for power generation. Indeed, though Sweetwater is a windy place,
plenty of locations farther north in the Great Plains are even better suited to wind
farming. One is about 250 miles north of Sweetwater, near Pampa, northeast of Amarillo in
the Texas Panhandle. That's where Pickens is building what
would be the world's largest wind farm, four times larger than the current titleholder
near here. So far, he has spent $2 billion on the project, including a record purchase of
nearly 700 wind turbines this year from General Electric. He expects to spend up to $10
billion on the project and to begin generating electricity in 2011.
Natural Gas Cars
"The key, Pickens says, is that wind energy can be used as a substitute for
natural gas now burned to generate electricity. That, in turn, will make far more natural
gas available for use as a transportation fuel. Pickens' plan is to
produce enough wind power within 10 years to divert 20% of the natural gas now used to
fuel power plants for use in cars and trucks. That's much more aggressive a growth plan
for the development of wind energy than envisioned by the Department of Energy, which
doesn't expect the USA to be getting 20% of its total energy needs from wind until at
foresees as many as a third of the vehicles running on natural gas within only a few years.
Julius Pretterebner, director of the Global Oil Group at Cambridge Energy Research
Associates, says getting 15% to 20% of the USA's cars to run on natural gas in some
cases, in mixtures with other fuels in dual-fuel vehicles by 2020 would be an
outstanding achievement, and doing that will require federal support to expand the
necessary infrastructure.Powering vehicles with compressed or liquefied natural gas, CNG
or LNG, has been Pickens' pet project since the late 1980s.Yet the concept has been very
slow to catch on.
"Distribution is a major problem. CNG drivers can, like Pickens, install inexpensive
equipment to fill up at their homes. But with fewer than 800 natural gas filling stations
around the USA, drivers can't count on being able to fill up wherever they go. So, for the
most part, CNG, or LNG, has remained limited to fleet operators, such as local bus
companies or big-city police departments. And that's where David Friedman,
research director in the vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says most
natural-gas-powered vehicles will continue to be operated because of the distribution
problem, the lack of vehicles made specifically to run on CNG, and the cost of converting
conventional vehicles to run on CNG. "I honestly think (natural gas') role will
be in medium- to heavy-duty vehicles and fleets and as a stepping stone to hydrogen
fuel-cell-powered vehicles in the future," Friedman says. Only one car, a version of
the Honda Civic, is available from the factory ready for CNG fuel, he says, and only at a
significant premium over the price of a conventionally fueled version.
Support from The Sierra Club
to shout down the skeptics by taking his case to the people via his TV ad campaign. If the
nation is to break its addiction to foreign oil, a network of CNG stations could be built
along interstates and in major cities for a relatively small investment, he says. Some
gasoline retailers have told him they would add CNG pumps to their stations once they're
certain there'll be enough vehicles capable of running on natural gas to justify costs.
"Washington, Pickens adds, "can encourage the move to
natural-gas-powered vehicles by providing modest economic incentives for fuel retailers
to invest in CNG pumps at their stations, for automakers to build CNG-powered cars and for
individuals to convert their existing vehicles to CNG use. And it should continue to
provide tax incentives for another 10 years to encourage wind energy's rapid development
as part of an overall plan to wean the nation from foreign oil, he says.
"It certainly would be cheaper than what they're doing
already for nuclear," Pickens adds. But he's also in favor of
developing more nuclear energy, and every form of alternative energy to reduce oil
imports. "Try everything. Do everything. Nuclear. Biomass. Coal. Solar. You name it.
I support them all," he says. "But there's only one energy source that can
dramatically reduce the amount of oil we have to import each year, and that's (natural)
Pickens is an outspoken believer in the so-called peak
oil theory that holds that maximum world production has peaked at about 85 million barrels
a day vs. current demand of about 86 million barrels a day
and will never rise much above that even with lots of new drilling and production.
"Even people who continue driving gasoline-powered cars and trucks will benefit"
from his plan, he says. Critics could easily accuse Pickens of advocating a major
new public policy initiative that will line his own pockets. He is, after all, a big
player in both the wind power and natural gas businesses. Pickens says while his hedge
fund will earn money for its investors, earning more money personally is meaningless:
"I'm 80 years old and have $4 billion. I don't need any
more money." He's more
concerned that his efforts to make reducing foreign oil dependency the No. 1 issue on the
national agenda will be dismissed by the public and, therefore, by Washington. So he says
he's carefully steering his plan clear of partisan bickering.
He's already enlisted an unlikely supporter: the
Sierra Club. "I will be in the front row of the chorus cheering" him on, says
Carl Pope, its executive director, who flew with Pickens to Sweetwater.
Bush and Cheney's Energy Plan
Oil Companies Rich and Gouge Consumers.
and gas prices have tripled since Bush became President. His war
Iraq has wasted more oil than anyone can calculate. He has driven the
Dollar down by 36%. He has had 7 years to devise an open Energy Plan
reduce American dependence on polluting, carbon based foreign energies.
has been a "total failure" to everyone who does not own an oil well.
many of those lucky souls realize now, the national price of his Administration
been far too high.
Crook Kenneth Lay Made Bush President
More Bush Lies
has denied how close he and convicted swindler Ken Lay were. That is an
to the truth.
Enron swindler Kenneth Lay helped Bush enormously in raising campaign
He had given "$122,500 to Bush Gubernatorial campaign. Lay had Enron give
to pay for Bush's second inaugural party in Austin in 1999 -- a showcase event that was
by Karl Rove and others to help the Texas governor step onto the national political stage.
Bush gave Enron exactly what it wanted in 1999, by signing legislation that deregulated
markets, Lay knew he had found his candidate for president.
Bush opened his campaign, Lay opened the cash spigots. As a "Bush Pioneer" in
to the 2000 presidential election, Lay was a key member of the Bush campaign's
circle. Under Lay's leadership, Enron ultimately gave Bush $550,025, making the
Texan's No. 1 career patron at the time the 2000 election campaign began, according to the
for Public Integrity. Lay personally pumped almost $400,000 into Republican hard- and
funds, while Enron slipped another $1.5 million into the GOP's soft-money cesspool.
that was just the beginning. Lay sent a letter to Enron executives urging them to
to Bush's campaign. More than 100 of them -- including Skilling, a major Bush giver since
when he cut his first $5,000 check to GW's gubernatorial campaign -- did just that. Dozens
spouses wrote, including "homemaker" and frequent $10,000 donor Linda Lay, gave
the Enron "family" a prime source of the money... All told, it is
estimated that, over the
prior the company's bankruptcy, Lay, his company and its employees contributed
to $2 million to fund George W. Bush's political rise. Lay found other ways to help,
well. He put Enron's corporate jets at the disposal of the
Bush campaign in 2000. He
in $5,000 to pay for the Florida recount fight, while a top Enron "consultant,"
of State James A. Baker III, ran the Republican's recount effort. He even paid for
own bookkeeping, chipping in $1,000 to help the Bush-Cheney campaign comply with
laws. And Lay and Enron gave $300,000 to underwrite the Bush-Cheney inauguration
(Read - John Nichols, Nation article on the Lay and Bush
Insider Trading by Bush's Buddy, Ken Lay
Lay of Enron disguised his insider sales of Enron. "During 2001 he
drew down an Enron line of credit in order to answer margin calls from banks
repaid it by selling almost $80 million of stock back to the company. Yet because
sales dont technically have to be disclosed until year-end, anyone looking at
available information would have thought that Lays stock ownership was
increasing (as a compelling slide put up by Hueston showed), when in fact he
unloading almost two-thirds of his Enron shares.... (It is) easy...to legally circumvent
rules as an insider... (T)his is another reason not to take reported insider transactions
Cheney Shafts Californian Consumers
the spring of 2001 the severity of the California energy
emergency had inspired
for government action, and Enron had a problem. Officials in California were
that federal price caps on wholesale energy sales would prevent profiteering and
wildly fluctuating energy markets, and even some Republicans were saying that
made sense. But the caps would cost Enron--which had come to dominate energy
by taking advantage of deregulation--a fortune.
CEO Kenneth Lay knew he needed high-level
help. So he arranged to meet
a man who had headed a corporation with extensive business ties to Enron and who
been a prime recipient of Enron's political largesse. Vice President Dick... At the
handed Cheney a memo that read in part: "The
administration should reject any attempt
re-regulate wholesale power markets by adopting price caps...."
The day after he met
Lay, Cheney gave a rare phone interview to the Los Angeles Times...Price
of the question. Dismissing the strategy as "short-term political relief for the
Cheney bluntly declared, "I don't see that as a possibility."
prognosis was flawed; within days, the Federal Energy Regulatory
agreed to price caps and the markets calmed down. But Cheney was undeterred
his drive to deliver for Enron. The Houston-based firm enjoyed a level of
during the Bush/Cheney team's first year that included explicit support of Enron's
for key regulatory positions, intervention in the affairs of a foreign government
the structuring of an energy policy task force to allow Enron and other corporations
effectively set policy... He (Cheney) told the Today show
that he wants to 'protect the
of the President and the Vice President to get unvarnished information advice from
source we want,'" notes former White House counsel John
Dean. "That sounds
too familiar to me. I worked for Richard Nixon."
his second week in office George W. Bush created the task force, officially known
the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) with Dick Cheney as chairman.
group was supposed to develop a national energy policy designed to help the private
and, as necessary and appropriate, State and local governments, promote dependable,
and environmentally sound production and distribution of energy for the future."
can read their final plan here.
Because both Bush and Cheney came from the same oil and gas industry that
his campaign, critics have charged that the energy industry was exercising undue
over national policy. The secrecy with which Cheney's Energy Task Force met added
these suspicions. To no one's surprise, a newly Bush appointed Republican judge has ruled
these meetings with oil and gas company executives are not public, though the taxpayer
them and the conclusions have directly taken money from the taxpayers' pockets. (From
1995 until leaving in March 1997, Judge
Bates had worked as Deputy Independent
Starr and the Independent Counsel's office during the investigation into
Clinton. On July 19,
2007, he dismissed a lawsuit filed by Valerie Plame Wilson and
husband against Vice President Dick Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove,
White House aide I.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State
Most of the activities of the Energy Task Force had not been
disclosed to the public,
though Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) requests (since 19
April 2001) have sought
access to its materials. The organisations Judicial Watch
and Sierra Club
launched a law suit (U.S.
Court for the District of Columbia: Judicial Watch Inc. v. Department of Energy, et al.,
Action No. 01-0981) under the FOIA to gain access to the task force's materials.
"On 5 March 2002
the US Government was ordered to make a full disclosure;
has not happened, pending appeal. In the Summer of 2003 a partial disclosure of
was made by the Commerce Department. This resulted in the
release of documents,
and charts, dated March 2001, of Iraq's,
and United Arab Emirates' oil fields,
refineries, tanker terminals and development projects. That case eventually went to
Supreme Court and the ruling was to send the case back to the Court of Appeals."
One Meeting with Environmentalists. 40+ Meetings with Oil
April 4, 2001, representatives of 13 environmental groups, including Erich Pica of Friends
the Earth and Anna Aurilio of the U.S. Public Interest Group, met with the Task Force
not with Vice President Cheney personally).  Environmental groups have speculated
this meeting was an attempt to appease them, since it is reported that a draft paper had
been produced at the time of this meeting and that half of the meeting was spent on
introducing themselves. No further meetings between the task force and the environmental
were reported, although there had been at least 40 meetings between the task force and
of the energy industry and its interest groups 
July 18, 2007, the Washington Post reported the names of those involved in the
Force, including at least 40 meetings with interest groups, most of them from
industries. Among those in the meetings were James J. Rouse, then
president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration; Kenneth L. Lay,
head of Enron Corp.; Jack
N. Gerard, then with the National Mining Association;
Cavaney, president of the American Petroleum Institute; and Eli Bebout, an old
from Wyoming who serves in the state Senate and owns an oil and drilling company.