Boone Pickens Caught in Several More Lies on Frontline

Nov 22, 2008 | Updated May 25, 2011

Last night, PBS debuted Heat, their widely anticipated documentary on the politics of Climate Change. I haven't been able to watch it yet myself, but I skimmed the transcript of the portion with T. Boone Pickens and a few things caught my eye. It is starting to look like Pickens has a bad habit of telling a few whoppers in every public appearance.

Lie #1: Democratic candidates don't know how reducing CO2 emissions by 60-80% is possible.

Frontline: "So the Democratic candidates are talking about between 60 and 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. Do you have any idea how that's possible?"

Boone Pickens: "No. I don't think they do either. Somebody put it up in front of them, and they read it off."

Here is an outline of Obama's Cap and Trade Plan (pdf), which would reduce CO2 emissions to by 80%, from 1990 levels, by 2050.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden support implementation of an economy?wide cap?and?trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This market mechanism has worked before and will give all American consumers and businesses the incentives to use their ingenuity to develop economically effective solutions to climate change.

The Obama-Biden cap and trade policy will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100 percent auction ensures that all industries pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these valuable emission rights away to companies on the basis of their past pollution. A small portion of the receipts generated by auctioning allowances ($15 billion per year) will be used to support the development of clean energy, invest in energy efficiency improvements, and help develop the next generation of biofuels and clean energy vehicles - measures that will help the economy and help meet the emissions reduction targets. It will also be used to provide new funding to state and federal land and wildlife managers to restore habitat, create wildlife migration corridors, and assist fish and wildlife to adapt to the effects of a warming climate. All remaining receipts will be used for rebates and other transition relief to ensure that families and communities are not adversely impacted by the transition to a new energy, low carbon economy.

Additionally, we recently learned that the 15 European Union countries who originally signed onto Kyoto are on track to meet their 20% reduction from 1990 levels by 2010.

Lie #2: Every candidate since the early 1970s has increased U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Boone Pickens: "Every candidate for president since I can remember -- back to the early '70s -- said, "Elect me, and we'll be energy-independent." Not one candidate from that time to this time has ever reduced the dependency on foreign oil. They've increased the dependency. They've all failed because none of them understood what they said."

Between 1977 and 1983, annual foreign oil imports into the United States were essentially cut in half, from about 2.4 billion barrels, to about 1.2 billion barrels. This success was due largely to President Carter's aggressive and forward-thinking policies. Implementing CAFE standards, in particular, likely had the largest impact.

The best thing we could have done to prevent our current reliance on foreign oil would have been to continue ratcheting CAFE standards up indefinitely. Here is what Carter's sound energy policy looked like in terms of foreign oil imports:

Lie # 3: 97% of the natural gas used in the United States is domestic.

Natural gas is 97 percent domestic fuel, North America.

Here are the facts.

In 2006 (best data available), 81% of the natural gas used in the U.S. was produced domestically. Of the remaining 19% (4.2 trillion cubic feet), 86% (3.6 trillion cubic feet) comes from Canada. 97% of the natural gas used in the United States is produced in North America, but only 81% is produced domestically.

Aside from just the three lies above (I'm sure there are more), Pickens also makes it clear that climate change is on the back burner for him. Priority number one, as always, is turning a profit.

It's probably somebody like me who spent too much money looking for oil and gas -- found a lot of it, but it got very, very tough to find in the last 20 years of my career. And I wanted to look for something else. Was it because I wanted to be clean and all? Not really. That isn't the first look I had at it. As time passed, that came into it.

So you wanted to make money?

Exactly. That's what most businessmen are going to want to do, is make money. You have to focus on I'm going out to make money is why I'm in this business, not to do good. Now, if you're lucky enough that the things that you're doing do good, then there's a nice, warm feeling about that.

I didn't go through the transcript in detail. How many lies did I miss?