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T. Boone Pickens talks natural gas at WasteCon event in Long Beach

September 23, 2009 |  6:29 pm

Oil magnate and clean energy champion T. Boone Pickens tried to whip up enthusiasm for domestic natural gas this morning while speaking at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Pickens, founder and chairman of investment firm BP Capital Management, delivered the presidential keynote address for the Solid Waste Assn. of North America’s WasteCon 2009 event. He took a folksy, can-do approach while touting his Pickens Plan for energy reform, cheerleading for U.S.-produced fuel sources while urging the country to “get off foreign oil from the enemy.”

The plan, first publicized in July and later through millions of dollars worth of air time, would end dependence on foreign oil. It would also create millions of jobs by integrating alternative energy sources such as wind and solar into the national grid and using natural gas – “the trump card in the deck” - as fuel.

 “I don’t want to get out of Saudi oil and onto the Chinese battery,” he said in a Texan lilt. “That is unacceptable. We’ve got to do it here, at home, not somewhere else.”

Over three days, WasteCon participants pore over issues spanning solid waste management to greenhouse gasses to recycling.

When not trying to recruit the audience to join his “Pickens army,” the 81-year-old also name-dropped supporters such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).


Pickens said he expected votes on several bills in Congress, including the “Natural Gas Act,” HR 1835, “just as soon as we get healthcare out of the way.” He then railed a bit against cap-and-trade emissions trading programs and general environmental illiteracy in political circles.

“We know more in this room about energy in America than all of Washington,” he told the large, crowded hall.

But although he faulted Americans for allowing years of cheap oil to distract from growing concerns about dependency, Pickens suggested that America still has more barrels of oil equivalent (BOEs) of natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil.

“It’s cleaner, it’s cheaper, it’s abundant, and it’s ours,” he said.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Pickens in 2007. Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times