After the Wild West was tamed, the mythological oil man filled the naphtha romantic void. With just a little bit of luck and a lot of gumption, just about anyone could strike it rich, thanks to the black gold under the sun-scarred Texas soil. Those who haven’t had the luck or ambition to build their fortune are often captivated by these big personalities. T. Boone Pickens has been the focus of a great deal of attention for several decades as he built his fortune and let his unique personality carry him into the public stage. In the past couple of years, the Pickens Plan has unexpectedly brought an oil-and-gas man to the forefront of the debate over renewable energies. T. Boone Pickens and his ideas will likely be with us for a long time, so it’s worth finding out about the man and his plans.

acetylene gas tankT. Boone Pickens is from Holdenville, Oklahoma, and was born in 1928. A child of the Depression, Pickens points out that his hometown is, “where the pavement ends, the West begins, and the Rock Island crossed the Frisco. His upbringing must have had quite an effect on him. Years ago, Pickens purchased his boyhood home and restored it to its original condition. That’s not all: during his childhood, Pickens wrote his name in his grandmother’s sidewalk. Left there for seventy years, the slab containing his signature;disappeared;in July of 2009 and was patched with new concrete. While no one can be sure if Pickens was responsible for the disappearance, it seems that he surrounds himself with comforting reminders of his past to keep a part of the boy he was in the man he became.

After earning a geology degree from Oklahoma State University in 1951, Pickens worked as a corporate, then independent geologist. (Pickens has always supported his alma mater; He’s contributed over 400 million dollars to the school, just over half of it to the athletics department.) He started building his vast fortune with the founding of Mesa Petroleum. According to Pickens own biographical material, “Mesa produced more than 3 trillion cubic feet of gas and 150 million barrels of oil from 1964 to 1996. /p>

As his profile rose on the national stage, Pickens became an increasingly outspoken tough love critic of Corporate America. Always eager to share his philosophies, Pickens believes in the building of integrated companies that produces things of value, instead of relying upon inflated stock and security values. From 1988: “The new focus is on results instead of size, on creating value rather than empires. /p>

Although Pickens left Mesa Petroleum in December 1996, he continued to play a significant role in American energy policy. In response to the increasing amount of imported oil that Americans use, Pickens has proposed an ambitious and logical plan to reduce this dependence. In a nutshell, policy on his web site challenges Americans to:

Increase the amount of electricity generated by wind and solar, which will also create much-needed jobs improve the electric grid to ensure efficient transmission, particularly from emerging power sources
Make use of government resources to incentivize upgraded insulation of buildings and use of other energy saving options transfer reliance on use of petroleum to much more plentiful natural gas.
T. Boone Pickens has put his money where his mouth is. His plans include a massive wind farm studded with 687 wind turbines that would generate thousands of megawatts of electricity. The original site was located on the Texas panhandle, one of the windiest, most suitable places in the United States. Unfortunately, that infrastructure is not yet stable and developed enough to accommodate all of that capacity, so Pickens, in July of 2009, had to reconsider his placement of the wind farm. As Engadget notes, Pickens has already paid for the turbines, so he will likely be eager to find a replacement site as soon as possible, or sell the turbines to interests who can use them.

While electricity generation is important, Pickens puts a great deal of importance on increasing the efficient use of energy in transportation. While millions of cars cannot be taken off the road, Pickens urges Americans to drive more automobiles powered by natural gas while hybrid and plug-in electric cars are perfected.

It often takes big personalities to get things done. (Unfortunately, history is not often made by people who go with the flow.) T. Boone Pickens is larger-than-life, and his unconventional ideas could be part of the solution Americans are looking for.

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