Oilman Pickens Shifts Focus To Wind Energy

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After decades investing in oil, T. Boone Pickens is now pouring billions of dollars into what he calls America's biggest wind farm. Pickens envisions putting up 2,500 turbines in Texas to generate 4,000 megawatts of energy — enough to power 1.3 million homes.

Pickens says America is living with oil prices of more than $140 per barrel and gasoline topping $4 per gallon because it didn't plan for its energy future.

"The mistake was made because we didn't have the leadership that stepped up and said, 'We cannot continue to import foreign oil,'" Pickens tells Steve Inskeep.

Wind currently generates a relatively small percentage of the nation's power, with most coming from coal, nuclear and natural gas.

Pickens says he would like to use more wind for power generation and shift natural gas for use as a transportation fuel.

"We've got plenty of natural gas," he says. "That's the beauty of it. Natural gas is cleaner, it's cheaper, it's abundant and it's domestic."

He notes that the United States, with just 4 percent of the world's population, uses 25 percent of the world's oil supply — most of it imported.

Pickens says he wants the government to extend a production tax credit for wind power for a period long enough to encourage investment in the technology.

The federal government recently issued a report forecasting that 20 percent of U.S. power generation could come from wind energy by the year 2030. Pickens says that's too long from now — he'll be 102 years old.

"This has to happen quicker than that," he says. "We'll be broke if you wait for this to all take place by 2030."



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