Never let it be said that I'm against capitalism. I'm a staunch capitalist who believes that the private sector is the best source of financing and ideas. Government frequently -- hell, always -- makes things worse by injecting its specific agenda so as to serve its favorite constituent: itself.
This being said, I am thrilled to see that Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens will invest $2 billion of his money to seed a wind energy project. He believes that our dependence on foreign oil is killing our economy, and is "the single biggest problem facing America today." No news there; proponents of renewable energy have been saying this for years.
His plan is that wind energy can be used to replace the natural gas currently being used by most metropolitan power plants, so that the gas can be used to power automobiles, thereby reducing the need for gasoline and oil. He believes this shift can reduce our foreign oil dependency by a third.
That, coupled with higher fuel efficiency standards that can be enforced at the state level, and an federal incentive to the private sector to innovate further in the renewable energy field, could put an even bigger dent in the oil bidness.
What's cool is that Pickens is willing to spend his own money on it, beyond the $2 billion he's already committed. Honestly, if the folks at Exxon/Mobil, Unocal, BP, Shell, and Chevron took some of those record profits and spent them on renewable energy projects, it could go a long way to accelerate Pickens's plan.
Of course, neither Pickens nor the others would be doing any of this for altruistic purposes. Hell, no. What they would recognize is the profit potential for themselves and their shareholders. I might even advise my financial adviser to start investing in oil companies (which I've refrained from doing for moral reasons) if I got a sense that there was a decent commitment level to innovate away from petroleum exploration and development.
My friend David Adams might even agree with me...