Whether his effort to promote the natural gas industry is good for the nation or not, it's definitely good for his wallet
Billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens is on a mission. He has developed a plan to end the U.S.'s addiction to foreign oil, which he calls the "Pickens Plan." Among other objectives, it hopes to "utilize America's natural gas to replace imported oil as a transportation fuel." In order to make that happen, he's urging Congress to provide subsidies for natural gas. Are his intentions here as pure as he claims, or does he stand to benefit financially if natural gas succeeds?
This week, he has been making the case for natural gas subsides before the American people on various news shows, including MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday. There, he dazzled its hosts with his commitment to clean energy and a better future in America. He explained that he is pushing a bill in Congress that would provide $5 billion in natural gas subsidies to jump start the effort that the Pickens Plan calls for. But he's frustrated by some resistance he's feeling -- in particular, from Koch Industries, a large conglomerate. Pickens explained why he believes Koch is against the bill (full clip at the bottom of the post):
They want cheap natural gas: they're in the fertilizer business, that's one thing. They also import 61,000 barrels of OPEC crude a day. And they also are one of the biggest recipients of the ethanol subsidy. So, I mean, they've got a bunch of reasons. And, I really feel like this: I know Charles Koch. I've known him forever it seems like; I've done a lot of business with him. But Charles is focused on Koch Industries. But that's who pays him. I'm focused on America. I'm for a plan for us, and to get us off the OPEC oil.
Essentially, Pickens criticizes Koch for preferring government subsidies to benefit Koch Industries. But is Pickens' motivation for natural gas subsidies really any different? It isn't as altruistic as he makes it seem. Pickens is the founder and largest shareholder of the natural gas company Clean Energy Fuels Corp. Pickens' ownership of common stock and warrants add up to a 41% stake in the firm, according to the company's March 2011 10-Q filing.