Pickens came out with a statement yesterday on Obama's economic stimulus plan speech. Here it is (via email, emphasis mine):
"President-Elect Obama's comments in his speech this morning represent an important first step in solving our nation's energy crisis and getting our economy moving again. Investing in alternative energy, focusing on conservation and rebuilding our power grid to deliver that energy to every corner of our country are critical components of this effort. As the new Congress and new Administration begin work, it will be critical that they focus on the need to dramatically reduce our dependency on foreign oil, which strangles our economy and threatens our national security.
President-Elect Obama made it clear that he also understands the important role that transportation will play in solving our energy crisis and I am confident that he will recognize that as we reduce our imports of foreign oil, there the only domestic resources available are natural gas and plug-in batteries that can have an immediate impact on this effort. A program focused on renewable energy, conservation, improving the grid and replacing foreign oil with domestic resources in our transportation system is something that I believe will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and revitalizes our economy."
So Pickens thinks our best shots to reduce dependence on foreign oil (a straw man, but that is a separate point) are plug-ins and natural gas vehicles. As is often the case, he is half-right. Investing federal dollars in a natural gas vehicle scheme would be a foolish and counterproductive blunder of epic proportions. Plug-in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, are an essential component of securing a sustainable energy future.
In the long-run, a transition to nearly 100% all-electric vehicles, plugging into a grid powered by clean and renewable sources, is the only option. In the short run, here are a few relatively easy things we can do to decrease oil consumption (and imports):
1. Mandate CAFE standards that increase every single year.
2. Increase the federal gas tax.
3. Invest in public transportation.
4. Offer tax credits and other incentives for consumers who purchase zero (and low) emissions vehicles.
Fortunately, Barack Obama is not as gullible as Sarah Palin, and won't be falling for the Pickens Plan. Hopefully he is wise enough to emphasize building new railroads (supertrain!) , rather than more unnecessary highways.