Panel Detail:
Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens on America's Energy Future
 
Monday, April 26, 2010  /  11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


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Moderator
Michael Milken, Chairman, Milken Institute
 
Speakers
T. Boone Pickens, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist; Founder, BP Capital
Ted Turner, Chairman, Turner Enterprises Inc.
 
Ted Turner didn't mince words: "We've gotta get off the Titanic before it sails." He and T. Boone Pickens argued passionately that America has to start weaning itself off foreign oil imports — and do it now.

Their session began with a recap of how president after president has pledged to achieve energy independence, while the percentage of U.S. oil imported from foreign sources in volatile regions has continued to climb. Today the nation imports some two-thirds of its oil.

"We're paying for both sides of the war," said Pickens, insisting that oil money sent to the Middle East is paying for terrorists and the Taliban. He expressed optimism that President Obama has pledged to end oil imports from the Middle East within 10 years, but was quick to add: "We have to remind him." Pickens pointed out that the U.S. represents about 4 percent of world's population but consumes 25 percent of the world's oil, an equation that's just not sustainable. He called for transitioning the nation's fleet of 18-wheelers to natural gas immediately.

The big question of the day is whether Washington has the political will to effect a fundamental change in America's energy consumption. Turner expressed worry about the influence of special interests and argued that the U.S. has to end oil and coal subsidies to level the playing field for renewables.

Pickens pointed out that China is already moving to ensure its energy independence, and the United States can, too. He believes strongly that we will see a strong energy bill passed this year or next, noting how many millions had signed onto the Pickens Plan online. He believes the grassroots effort can make something happen — and "scare the hell out of those politicians."

Both men agreed that time is of the essence and acting is crucial to our children's livelihoods and lives. Reducing America's reliance on foreign oil, transitioning to natural gas and turning to renewable sources will be a win all around, in terms of national security, economic stability, jobs, cleaning up the environment and fighting climate change.

"We have to go to wind and solar eventually," said Turner. "Why not now? . . . Let's do the right thing and we'll all get rich!"