Rich Galen

A moment of personal privilege.

One of the ways I supplement my income, allowing me to spend countless hours researching, writing, and publishing Mullings; then responding to the many nanny-nanny-boo-boo emails about the typos, malapropisms, and outright factual failures which so many of you glory in sending, is to do some writing for commercial enterprises.

One such enterprise is the Pickens Plan, founded and largely funded by Texas oil & gas man T. Boone Pickens.

As uncomfortable as I am about tooting my own horn …

I'm bringing this up now because the Senate is going to try and get an energy bill to the floor next week and, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) said yesterday, according to the NY Times:

"he was prepared to incorporate a plan championed by T. Boone Pickens, the oil and gas executive, to sharply expand the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel in large vehicle fleets. The proposal, supported by Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, and Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, would provide tax breaks for natural-gas-powered vehicles and fueling stations."

Boone Pickens is one of the few billionaires I have ever spent any significant amount of time with. I once had breakfast with Bill Gates and Newt Gingrich when Newt was speaker, so that pretty much covers my billionaire elbow-rubbing.

When Pickens announced the Pickens Plan in July 2008 he promised to keep clear of partisan politics. Very few Democrats believed him. But, over the ensuing two years he did not take sides in the Presidential campaign, and has spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with and in the offices of everyone from Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to John Kerry (D-Mass).

If you have been following American politics for more than 20 minutes, you understand the import of Pickens and Kerry sitting in the same office at the same time.

Pickens has spent north of $60 million promoting the idea that we need to reduce our dependence on OPEC oil and we can do that by using our enormous domestic reserves of natural gas.

He may make a couple of bucks out of this, but as he has thought this out pretty fully and, as he says "I'm 82 years old. I don't have time for R &D."

I've written about this a good deal: America has over a 100-year supply of natural gas. We have more natural gas reserves in North America than the Saudis have oil. How much more? According to the CIA's Factbook, Saudi Arabia has 264 billion barrels of oil. We have seven hundred billion barrels of oil equivalent in our natural gas reserves - about 2.5 times more.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at