Jill Burcum: T. Boone Pickens, Egypt and America's oil problem

  • Article by: JILL BURCUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 3, 2011 - 7:48 PM
Jill Burcum

Jill Burcum

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The United States has put energy policy on the backburner during the Great Recession.

With unrest boiling over in Egypt, legendary financier and oil man T. Boone Pickens is pointing out just how shortsighted that it is.

Pickens offers a fresh and chilling take on the historic protests sweeping across the Arab world. He has long argued against U.S. dependence on Middle East oil.

In interviews this week, and on his Pickens Plan website, he is pointing out that instability in this region threatens the American oil supply.

“You’re seeing a dry run of sorts with unrest in countries like Tunisia and Egypt that are not big on the oil market,” Pickens said in an interview with Politico’s Darren Goode.

“And you better watch close because the next one may be Algeria or Libya or God forbid Saudi Arabia. And if that happens, you’re really going to have a mess on your hands.”

Saudi Arabia was America’s third largest source for imported crude oil in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Canada and Mexico were the top two.

Other countries rounding out the top 10 are Venezuela, Nigeria, Colombia, Algeria, Iraq, Angola and Ecuador.

Pickens has a financial stake in all this. He has made massive investments in wind energy, so his Pickens Plan for cutting imported oil needs is self-serving.

The plan also calls for other alternatives to oil, such as solar, and transitioning commercial transport fuel from diesel to natural gas.

Pickens’ political credibility also got scuffed up by his high-profile support for the Swift Boat Vets and POWs, whose controversial attacks on former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made headlines in 2004.

Still, Pickens raises a fair point. Regime changes across the Arab world should bring energy policy back out where it belongs: front and center.

This is a timely opportunity to renew America’s commitment to energy security and push for this nation to pioneer the fuels of the future.

Jill Burcum is a Star Tribune editorial writer and editorial board member.


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