6 Aug 2008

Easy Pickens

TokyoTom gets at the Baptists and Bootleggers of T. Boone Pickens's "Mean and Green" water and wind plan:
We obviously need big ideas and big investments, both to deal with water shortages and to replace dirty and GHG emitting energy usage; Pickens' plans may offer us a way forward. But we definitely don't need developers like Pickens using government to force these projects down our throats (and misusing government authority to take property from unconsenting landowners) or to get public subsidies. Let his plans stand on their own two feet, and let him (and the Sierra Club) keep his hands off of my wallet. I am also not in favor of water plans that accelerate a race to draw down shared but unowned resources - has the Sierra Club really changed its stance on this?
In my original post on Pickens, I pointed out that his plan relied on Texas's famously lax property rights ("If I can take it, it's mine"), and TT is right to call Pickens's move for what it is -- a nice bit of profit making that depends on wacky government policies.

Bottom Line: Property rights are useful, and they need to evolve as conditions evolve. It seems that Pickens is ahead of the curve (or making the curve) wrt wind and water property rights. Let's see who gets paid and who gets screwed when Pickens's Green Scheme turns out to be about money first and trees later...


TokyoTom said...

Thanks for the link, David. In Picken's scheme, the only property rights "evolving" are (1) his ability to get Texas to change its water district laws to give Pickens eminent domain across Texas and tax-exempt bond for a private 8-acre parcel and the ability to piggyback power lines over water rights-of-way; (2) the lessening of the meaning of "private property" for everyone else.

Pickens' clever combination of water and power lines will put him way ahead of everyone else who wants to build wind power farms, and since there is almost zero cost to the water he'll pump, he's guaranteed to make money on the water.

On the wind, he's still looking for federal and state tax subsidies, as well as some fubding for his power lines.

Obviously there are unresolved issues relating to the Ogallala reservoir; presumably there will be incentives to work these out as others who share the pool race to pump it dry.

Anonymous said...

Just as an fyi....

Prop 10 ($5 billion) which is up for approval by voters in California this November was underwritten by Pickens Clean Energy Corp. Clean Energy is a big supplier of natural gas fuel to fleets and I think Pickens is a majority shareholder.


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