In Ann Arbor to campaign for his alternative energy plans for the U.S., 80-year-old Oklahoma billionaire T. Boone Pickens took center stage at the Power Center (appropriately enough) last Wednesday to a near packed house. Introduced to the predominately student audience by the president of the Michigan Student Assembly, Sabrina Shingwani, as part of Homecoming 2008, “Go Blue, Live Green,” Pickens wasted no time outlining the magnitude of the problem from our reliance on imported oil.
As the world’s largest oil consumer, the U.S. imports 21 billion barrels of oil annually at a cost $700 billion. This represents nearly 25% of the world consumption, despite the fact that we have only 4% of the world population and 3% of the oil reserves.
In his witty and “good old boy” style, Pickens chided both current presidential contenders McCain and Obama for failing to outline an oil policy as part of their campaigns. Lucky for us, Pickens, a geologist by training, has a few concrete ideas for how we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Most of the ideas center on patriotism and abundant and clean-burning natural gas. Pickens himself drives a car powered by natural gas even though he only lives a mile from his office. According to Pickens, $8 of natural gas can replace $32 of gasoline. That sound like a good plan to me.
I am more confident than ever that there is hope for our country getting off our dependence on foreign oil if an octogenarian oil man from Oklahoma, who did not even mention football, can pack an auditorium as part Homecoming. Maybe the floats this year will all be drawn by hybrids?