A few days ago I wrote about how T. Boone Pickens´s wind power plan is really a cover for his efforts to sell huge amounts of water from the Ogallala aquifer to fast growing, water-wasting Texas cities. Today we´ll take a look at how Pickens is funding California´s Proposition 10 to pick up an enormous subsidy for his natural gas businesses in the Golden State.
I don´t intend to go in great detail into why shifting the United States vehicle fleet over to natural gas is a bad idea. That has already been done here and here. Suffice it to say, that it makes no sense to use natural gas, which is itself a fossil fuel, to replace gasoline in 25% efficient internal combustion engines when it could be used to replace coal, a much dirtier fossil fuel, in coal-fired power plants where, if they are combined-cycle power plants, efficiencies of 60% can be obtained.
Pickens is not a stupid man. He understands that using natural gas to replace gasoline when it could be used to replace coal makes no sense from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective. So why does he favor doing so? Because there is a buck to be made of course.
California´s Proposition 10 ballot measure (full text here PDF) is funded exclusively by Pickens´s company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., via a Pickens front group with the deceptive name of Californians for Clean and Renewable Energy, which has invested $3.7 million dollars in promoting the proposal.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
Along with being the country’s biggest wind power developer, Pickens owns Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a natural gas fueling station company that is the sole backer of the stealthy Proposition 10 on California’s November ballot. This measure would authorize the sale of $5 billion in general fund bonds to provide alternative energy rebates and incentives — but by the time the principal and the interest is paid off, it would squander at least $9.8 billion in taxpayer money on Pickens’ self-serving natural gas agenda.
The initiative deceptively reads like it’s supporting all alternative-fuel vehicles and renewable energy sources. But a closer read finds a laundry list of cash grabs — from $200 million for a liquefied natural gas terminal to $2.5 billion for rebates of up to $50,000 for each natural gas vehicle.
If you want cleaner air, you’ll be disappointed by Prop 10. The initiative does nothing to ratchet up existing clean air requirements. Remarkably, Prop 10 defines “clean alternative” vehicles to exclude hybrids and to include natural gas powered vehicles, provided their emissions are no worse than the maximum pollution levels already required for gasoline or diesel powered vehicles. That’s a neat trick: re-label the status quo as clean and you qualify for a big tax handout – provided, of course, you fill up at Mr. Pickens’ natural gas stations. [Emphasis added-JR]
Prop 10 requires the state to issue $50,000 per truck on a first come – first served basis. There is no requirement that the truck remains in our state. A trucking company gets the $50,000 “clean” truck rebate even if it is not replacing a “dirty” truck. Interstate trucking companies could collect California tax handouts to subsidize their fleet purchases, relocate the trucks out of state, and sell their used “dirty” trucks to California truckers who will keep on belching fumes on our roads.
And from an article in the San Diego Union Tribune:
Judy Dugan, an energy specialist with Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica, said the only hybrid that meets the qualifications specified by the referendum is the Toyota Prius, which could gain a $2,000 rebate. Rebates for natural gas cars, Dugan said, would start at $10,000.
So, let´s summarize: Proposition 10, the campaign for which is being funded by T. Boone Pickens alone, redefines ¨clean alternative vehicles¨ as natural gas vehicles which pollute no more than the worse gasoline powered vehicles (in other words, they pollute a lot) and which would be eligible for rebates between $10,000 and $50,000, while excluding all hybrid vehicles except the Toyota Prius, which would receive a modest $2,000 rebate.
The subsidies would favor an inferior technology, natural gas vehicles (NGV´s) over superior ones, including electric hybrid vehicles (EHV´s), do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually cost California taxpayers nearly $10 billion dollars in principal and interest.
Proposition 10 is so bad that it is opposed not only by environmental and consumer groups, but also by the California Chamber of Commerce, which publicly announced it´s opposition on Tuesday.
The simple fact is that T. Boone Pickens is still what he´s always been: a flim-flam man on the grandest of scales.
Crossposted at Daily Kos