|T. Boone Pickens “Encouraged” by Obama’s Energy Speech|
By Bonney Kapp
August 4, 2008
At his big energy speech in Lansing today, Barack Obama likened John McCain to
the Democrats’ villains-in-chief and accused the presumptive Republican nominee
of trying to solve the country’s energy crisis with a drill. “Like George Bush
and Dick Cheney before him, he sees more drilling as the answer to all of our
energy problems, and like them, he’s found a receptive audience in the very same
oil companies that have blocked our progress for so long,” Obama said as the
crowd of supporters booed and hissed.
In between describing his plan to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil
(read below the jump for Obama’s whole speech), Obama reinforced the message
that the McCain camp is on the wrong side of the energy crisis, choosing to
focus on the short term fixes like a gas tax holiday and drilling for more oil
at home than trying to solve the bigger problem at hand.
To make this point, Obama cited oil man-turned energy problem solver T. Boone
Pickens, who has recently launched an effort to contribute ideas for solutions
to the energy crisis. “[John McCain] also knows that if we opened up and drilled
on every single square inch of our land and our shores, we would still find only
three percent of the world’s oil reserves. Three percent for a country that
uses 25% of the world’s oil. Even Texas oil man Boone Pickens - Boone’s not a
Democrat - who’s calling for major new investments in alternative energy, has
said, ‘This is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.’ That’s Boone
Pickens, an oil man, made his money drilling,” Obama said.
Hours later, Pickens’ successful PR team sent out a statement from the oil man.
“I’m strongly encouraged by Senator Obama’s speech on America’s energy future.
Foreign oil is killing our economy and putting our nation at risk,” the
statement reads. “When I started this campaign my goal was to make this the
biggest issue in the coming election and the top priority to be addressed in the
first hundred days of the next administration. This issue is clearly moving up
in the priority of political debate; Senator Obama’s statement is an indication
that is what is indeed happening. I will continue to push this as a priority for
the rest of the year.”
No word yet on whether the two men have spoken about the energy crisis.
Remarks by Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
We meet at a moment when this country is facing a set of challenges greater than
any we’ve seen in generations. Right now, our brave men and women in uniform
are fighting two different wars while terrorists plot their next attack. Our
changing climate is placing our planet in peril. Our economy is in turmoil and
our families are struggling with rising costs and falling incomes; with lost
jobs and lost homes and lost faith in the American Dream. And for too long, our
leaders in Washington have been unwilling or unable to do anything about it.
That is why this election could be the most important of our lifetime. When it
comes to our economy, our security, and the very future of our planet, the
choices we make in November and over the next few years will shape the next
decade, if not the century. And central to all of these major challenges is the
question of what we will do about our addiction to foreign oil.
Without a doubt, this addiction is one of the most dangerous and urgent threats
this nation has ever faced – from the gas prices that are wiping out your
paychecks and straining businesses to the jobs that are disappearing from this
state; from the instability and terror bred in the Middle East to the rising
oceans and record drought and spreading famine that could engulf our planet.
It’s also a threat that goes to the very heart of who we are as a nation, and
who we will be. Will we be the generation that leaves our children a planet in
decline, or a world that is clean, and safe, and thriving? Will we allow
ourselves to be held hostage to the whims of tyrants and dictators who control
the world’s oil wells? Or will we control our own energy and our own destiny?
Will America watch as the clean energy jobs and industries of the future
flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany? Or will we create them
here, in the greatest country on Earth, with the most talented, productive
workers in the world?
As Americans, we know the answers to these questions. We know that we cannot
sustain a future powered by a fuel that is rapidly disappearing. Not when we
purchase $700 million worth of oil every single day from some the world’s most
unstable and hostile nations – Middle Eastern regimes that will control nearly
all of the world’s oil by 2030. Not when the rapid growth of countries like
China and India mean that we’re consuming more of this dwindling resource faster
than we ever imagined. We know that we can’t sustain this kind of future.
But we also know that we’ve been talking about this issue for decades. We’ve
heard promises about energy independence from every single President since
Richard Nixon. We’ve heard talk about curbing the use of fossil fuels in State
of the Union addresses since the oil embargo of 1973.
Back then, we imported about a third of our oil. Now, we import more than half.
Back then, global warming was the theory of a few scientists. Now, it is a
fact that is melting our glaciers and setting off dangerous weather patterns as
we speak. Then, the technology and innovation to create new sources of clean,
affordable, renewable energy was a generation away. Today, you can find it in
the research labs of this university and in the design centers of this state’s
legendary auto industry. It’s in the chemistry labs that are laying the
building blocks for cheaper, more efficient solar panels, and it’s in the
re-born factories that are churning out more wind turbines every day all across
Despite all this, here we are, in another election, still talking about our oil
addiction; still more dependent than ever. Why?
You won’t hear me say this too often, but I couldn’t agree more with the
explanation that Senator McCain offered a few weeks ago. He said, “Our
dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making, and was
caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the
future of the country.”
What Senator McCain neglected to mention was that during those thirty years, he
was in Washington for twenty-six of them. And in all that time, he did little
to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He voted against increased fuel
efficiency standards and opposed legislation that included tax credits for more
efficient cars. He voted against renewable sources of energy. Against clean
biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind power. Against an energy bill
that – while far from perfect – represented the largest investment in renewable
sources of energy in the history of this country. So when Senator McCain talks
about the failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about our energy
crisis, it’s important to remember that he’s been a part of that failure. Now,
after years of inaction, and in the face of public frustration over rising gas
prices, the only energy proposal he’s really promoting is more offshore drilling
– a position he recently adopted that has become the centerpiece of his plan,
and one that will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the
long-term challenge of energy independence.
George Bush’s own Energy Department has said that if we opened up new areas to
drilling today, we wouldn’t see a single drop of oil for seven years. Seven
years. And Senator McCain knows that, which is why he admitted that his plan
would only provide “psychological” relief to consumers. He also knows that if
we opened up and drilled on every single square inch of our land and our shores,
we would still find only three percent of the world’s oil reserves. Three
percent for a country that uses 25% of the world’s oil. Even Texas oilman Boone
Pickens, who’s calling for major new investments in alternative energy, has
said, “this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”
Now, increased domestic oil exploration certainly has its place as we make our
economy more fuel-efficient and transition to other, renewable, American-made
sources of energy. But it is not the solution. It is a political answer of the
sort Washington has given us for three decades.
There are genuine ways in which we can provide some short-term relief from high
gas prices – relief to the mother who’s cutting down on groceries because of gas
prices, or the man I met in Pennsylvania who lost his job and can’t even afford
to drive around and look for a new one. I believe we should immediately give
every working family in America a $1,000 energy rebate, and we should pay for it
with part of the record profits that the oil companies are making right now.
I also believe that in the short-term, as we transition to renewable energy, we
can and should increase our domestic production of oil and natural gas. But we
should start by telling the oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres they
currently have access to but haven’t touched. And if they don’t, we should
require them to give up their leases to someone who will. We should invest in
the technology that can help us recover more from existing oil fields, and speed
up the process of recovering oil and gas resources in shale formations in
Montana and North Dakota; Texas and Arkansas and in parts of the West and
Central Gulf of Mexico. We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our
Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less expensive crude, which in the past has
lowered gas prices within two weeks. Over the next five years, we should also
lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas
production. And we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves
and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska Natural Gas
Pipeline, delivering clean natural gas and creating good jobs in the process.
But the truth is, none of these steps will come close to seriously reducing our
energy dependence in the long-term. We simply cannot pretend, as Senator McCain
does, that we can drill our way out of this problem. We need a much bolder and
much bigger set of solutions. We have to make a serious, nationwide commitment
to developing new sources of energy and we have to do it right away.
Last week, Washington finally made some progress on this. A group of Democrat
and Republican Senators sat down and came up with a compromise on energy that
includes many of the proposals I’ve worked on as a Senator and many of the steps
I’ve been calling for on this campaign. It’s a plan that would invest in
renewable fuels and batteries for fuel-efficient cars, help automakers re-tool,
and make a real investment in renewable sources of energy.
Like all compromises, this one has its drawbacks. It includes a limited amount
of new offshore drilling, and while I still don’t believe that’s a particularly
meaningful short-term or long-term solution, I am willing to consider it if it’s
necessary to actually pass a comprehensive plan. I am not interested in making
the perfect the enemy of the good – particularly since there is so much good in
this compromise that would actually reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
And yet, while the compromise is a good first step and a good faith effort, I
believe that we must go even further, and here’s why – breaking our oil
addiction is one of the greatest challenges our generation will ever face. It
will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy. This
transformation will be costly, and given the fiscal disaster we will inherit
from the last Administration, it will likely require us to defer some other priorities.
It is also a transformation that will require more than just a few government
programs. Energy independence will require an all-hands-on-deck effort from
America – effort from our scientists and entrepreneurs; from businesses and from
every American citizen. Factories will have to re-tool and re-design.
Businesses will need to find ways to emit less carbon dioxide. All of us will
need to buy more of the fuel-efficient cars built by this state, and find new
ways to improve efficiency and save energy in our own homes and businesses.
This will not be easy. And it will not happen overnight. And if anyone tries
to tell you otherwise, they are either fooling themselves or trying to fool you.
But I know we can do this. We can do this because we are Americans. We do the
improbable. We beat great odds. We rally together to meet whatever challenge
stands in our way. That’s what we’ve always done – and it’s what we must do
now. For the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet,
we must end the age of oil in our time.
Creating a new energy economy isn’t just a challenge to meet, it’s an
opportunity to seize – an opportunity that will create new businesses, new
industries, and millions of new jobs. Jobs that pay well. Jobs that can’t be
outsourced. Good, union jobs. For a state that has lost so many and struggled
so much in recent years, this is an opportunity to rebuild and revive your
economy. As your wonderful Governor has said, “Any time you pick up a newspaper
and see the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming,’ just think: ‘jobs for
Michigan.’” You are seeing the potential already. Already, there are 50,000
jobs in your clean energy sector and 300 companies. But now is the time to
accelerate that growth, both here and across the nation.
If I am President, I will immediately direct the full resources of the federal
government and the full energy of the private sector to a single, overarching
goal – in ten years, we will eliminate the need for oil from the entire Middle
East and Venezuela. To do this, we will invest $150 billion over the next ten
years and leverage billions more in private capital to build a new energy
economy that harnesses American energy and creates five million new American jobs.
There are three major steps I will take to achieve this goal – steps that will
yield real results by the end of my first term in office.
First, we will help states like Michigan build the fuel-efficient cars we need,
and we will get one million 150 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrids on our roads
within six years.
I know how much the auto industry and the auto workers of this state have
struggled over the last decade or so. But I also know where I want the
fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow to be built – not in Japan, not in China, but
right here in the United States of America. Right here in the state of Michigan.
We can do this. When I arrived in Washington, I reached across the aisle to
come up with a plan to raise the mileage standards in our cars for the first
time in thirty years – a plan that won support from Democrats and Republicans
who had never supported raising fuel standards before. I also led the
bipartisan effort to invest in the technology necessary to build plug-in hybrid cars.
As President, I will accelerate those efforts to meet our urgent need. With
technology we have on the shelf today, we will raise our fuel mileage standards
four percent every year. We’ll invest more in the research and development of
those plug-in hybrids, specifically focusing on the battery technology. We’ll
leverage private sector funding to bring these cars directly to American
consumers, and we’ll give consumers a $7,000 tax credit to buy these vehicles.
But most importantly, I’ll provide $4 billion in loans and tax credits to
American auto plants and manufacturers so that they can re-tool their factories
and build these cars. That’s how we’ll not only protect our auto industry and
our auto workers, but help them thrive in a 21st century economy.
What’s more, these efforts will lead to an explosion of innovation here in
Michigan. At the turn of the 20th century, there were literally hundreds of car
companies offering a wide choice of steam vehicles and gas engines. I believe
we are entering a similar era of expanding consumer choices, from higher mileage
cars, to new electric entrants like GM’s Volt, to flex fuel cars and trucks
powered by biofuels and driven by Michigan innovation.
The second step I’ll take is to require that 10% of our energy comes from
renewable sources by the end of my first term – more than double what we have
now. To meet these goals, we will invest more in the clean technology research
and development that’s occurring in labs and research facilities all across the
country and right here at MSU, where you’re working with farm owners to develop
this state’s wind potential and developing nanotechnology that will make solar
I’ll also extend the Production Tax Credit for five years to encourage the
production of renewable energy like wind power, solar power, and geothermal
energy. It was because of this credit that wind power grew 45% last year, the
largest growth in history. Experts have said that Michigan has the second best
potential for wind generation and production in the entire country. And as the
world’s largest producer of the material that makes solar panels work, this tax
credit would also help states like Michigan grow solar industries that are
already creating hundreds of new jobs.
We’ll also invest federal resources, including tax incentives and government
contracts, into developing next generation biofuels. By 2022, I will make it a
goal to have 6 billion gallons of our fuel come from sustainable, affordable
biofuels and we’ll make sure that we have the infrastructure to deliver that
fuel in place. Here in Michigan, you’re actually a step ahead of the game with
your first-ever commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, which will lead the way by
turning wood into clean-burning fuel. It’s estimated that each new advanced
biofuels plant can add up to 120 jobs, expand a local town’s tax base by $70
million per year, and boost local household income by $6.7 million annually.
In addition, we’ll find safer ways to use nuclear power and store nuclear waste.
And we’ll invest in the technology that will allow us to use more coal,
America’s most abundant energy source, with the goal of creating five
“first-of-a-kind” coal-fired demonstration plants with carbon capture and
Of course, too often, the problem is that all of this new energy technology
never makes it out of the lab and onto the market because there’s too much risk
and too much cost involved in starting commercial-scale clean energy businesses.
So we will remove some of this cost and this risk by directing billions in
loans and capital to entrepreneurs who are willing to create clean energy
businesses and clean energy jobs right here in America.
As we develop new sources of energy and electricity, we will also need to
modernize our national utility grid so that it’s accommodating to new sources of
power, more efficient, and more reliable. That’s an investment that will also
create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and one that I will make as President.
Finally, the third step I will take is to call on businesses, government, and
the American people to meet the goal of reducing our demand for electricity 15%
by the end of the next decade. This is by far the fastest, easiest, and
cheapest way to reduce our energy consumption – and it will save us $130 billion
on our energy bills.
Since DuPont implemented an energy efficiency program in 1990, the company has
significantly reduced its pollution and cut its energy bills by $3 billion. The
state of California has implemented such a successful efficiency strategy that
while electricity consumption grew 60% in this country over the last three
decades, it didn’t grow at all in California.
There is no reason America can’t do the same thing. We will set a goal of
making our new buildings 50% more efficient over the next four years. And we’ll
follow the lead of California and change the way utilities make money so that
their profits aren’t tied to how much energy we use, but how much energy we save.
In just ten years, these steps will produce enough renewable energy to replace
all the oil we import from the Middle East. Along with the cap-and-trade
program I’ve proposed, we will reduce our dangerous carbon emissions 80% by 2050
and slow the warming of our planet. And we will create five million new jobs in
If these sound like far-off goals, just think about what we can do in the next
few years. One million plug-in hybrid cars on the road. Doubling our energy
from clean, renewable sources like wind power or solar power and 2 billion
gallons of affordable biofuels. New buildings that 50% more energy efficient.
So there is a real choice in this election – a choice about what kind of future
we want for this country and this planet.
Senator McCain would not take the steps or achieve the goals that I outlined
today. His plan invests very little in renewable sources of energy and he’s
opposed helping the auto industry re-tool. Like George Bush and Dick Cheney
before him, he sees more drilling as the answer to all of our energy problems,
and like them, he’s found a receptive audience in the very same oil companies
that have blocked our progress for so long. In fact, he raised more than one
million dollars from big oil just last month, most of which came after he
announced his plan for offshore drilling in a room full of cheering oil
executives. His initial reaction to the bipartisan energy compromise was to
reject it because it took away tax breaks for oil companies. And even though he
doesn’t want to spend much on renewable energy, he’s actually proposed giving $4
billion more in tax breaks to the biggest oil companies in America – including
$1.2 billion to Exxon-Mobil.
This is a corporation that just recorded the largest profit in the history of
the United States. . This is the company that, last quarter, made $1,500 every
second. That’s more than $300,000 in the time it takes you to fill up a tank
with gas that’s costing you more than $4-a-gallon. And Senator McCain not only
wants them to keep every dime of that money, he wants to give them more.
So make no mistake – the oil companies have placed their bet on Senator McCain,
and if he wins, they will continue to cash in while our families and our economy
suffer and our future is put in jeopardy.
Well that’s not the future I see for America. I will not pretend the goals I
laid out today aren’t ambitious. They are. I will not pretend we can achieve
them without cost, or without sacrifice, or without the contribution of almost
every American citizen.
But I will say that these goals are possible. And I will say that achieving
them is absolutely necessary if we want to keep America safe and prosperous in
the 21st century.
I want you all to think for a minute about the next four years, and even the
next ten years. We can continue down the path we’ve been traveling. We can
keep making small, piece-meal investments in renewable energy and keep sending
billions of our hard-earned dollars to oil company executives and Middle Eastern
dictators. We can watch helplessly as the price of gas rises and falls because
of some foreign crisis we have no control over, and uncover every single barrel
of oil buried beneath this country only to realize that we don’t have enough for
a few years, let alone a century. We can watch other countries create the
industries and the jobs that will fuel our future, and leave our children a
planet that grows more dangerous and unlivable by the day.
Or we can choose another future. We can decide that we will face the realities
of the 21st century by building a 21st century economy. In just a few years, we
can watch cars that run on a plug-in battery come off the same assembly lines
that once produced the first Ford and the first Chrysler. We can see shuttered
factories open their doors to manufacturers that sell wind turbines and solar
panels that will power our homes and our businesses. We can watch as millions
of new jobs with good pay and good benefits are created for American workers,
and we can take pride as the technologies, and discoveries, and industries of
the future flourish in the United States of America. We can lead the world,
secure our nation, and meet our moral obligations to future generations.
This is the choice that we face in the months ahead. This is the challenge we
must meet. This is the opportunity we must seize – and this may be our last
chance to seize it.
And if it seems too difficult or improbable, I ask you to think about the
struggles and the challenges that past generations have overcome. Think about
how World War II forced us to transform a peacetime economy still climbing out
of Depression into an Arsenal of Democracy that could wage war across three
continents. And when President Roosevelt’s advisors informed him that his goals
for wartime production were impossible to meet, he waved them off and said
“believe me, the production people can do it if they really try.” And they did.
Think about when the scientists and engineers told John F. Kennedy that they had
no idea how to put a man on the moon, he told them they would find a way. And
we found one. Remember how we trained a generation for a new, industrial
economy by building a nationwide system of public high schools; how we laid down
railroad tracks and highways across an entire continent; how we pushed the
boundaries of science and technology to unlock the very building blocks of human life.
I ask you to draw hope from the improbable progress this nation has made and
look to the future with confidence that we too can meet the great test of our
time. I ask you to join me, in November and in the years to come, to ensure
that we will not only control our own energy, but once again control our own
destiny, and forge a new and better future for the country that we love. Thank