Pickens, Turner push gas at confab

ASPEN — Oilman T. Boone Pickens and media giant Ted Turner joined Saturday in touting natural gas as an important part of the nation’s energy future and a resource Pickens says can be cleanly produced.

The two were part of a powerhouse morning speaking panel that included filmmaker James Cameron, who said immediate action is needed to combat climate change.

“We’ve got to understand what we’re up against as a human race,” Cameron said, speaking at the annual Aspen Renewable Energy Day Summit.

Turner, who founded CNN, owns the largest amount of private land in the United States,  more than 2 million acres, and has pursued alternative energy projects including a solar energy development in New Mexico. But, he said, making such investments remains difficult in the United States.

“The field is still tilted to the (expletive) coal and oil industry, and our federal government won’t do anything about it, and I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” Turner said.

But he said he doesn’t favor just wind and solar energy, but possibly nuclear power.

“We’ve got to get on with the Pickens plan and put natural gas to work for us, too,” Turner said.

Pickens said the point of his plan is to boost the nation’s security by ending its reliance on imports for two-thirds of its oil. Some of those imports are from countries not considered friends of the United States, and U.S. oil purchases also help fund the Taliban fighting Americans in Afghanistan, he said.

“We are paying for both sides of the war,” he said.

Pickens is pushing both alternative energy forms and more use of domestically abundant natural gas, including as a cleaner-burning alternative to coal for power generation.

Pickens, who said he worked in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin in 1955, said the safety of drilling has been proved by the thousands of wells that have been punched through the Ogallala aquifer and hydraulically fractured in Great Plains states without damaging that water supply.

“Listen, drilling practices can take care of that, and the rules and regulations are pretty clear as to how you maintain a safe operation (so as) not to damage the environment,” he said.

Cameron, whose blockbuster movie “Avatar” included a pro-environment message, said lack of more public acceptance of climate-change science is a result of a misinformation campaign heavily funded by coal and oil lobbies. He thinks people will take the threat more seriously if they can be made to understand the impact it will have on their children’s health and security.

“That’s the way you’re really going to reach them,” he said.

Turner said proponents of fighting climate change can’t outspend the opposition but can outwork them.

“And we’ve got right on our side, and that means an awful lot. And if in the end, if right doesn’t win, maybe it’s best if we’re not here (as a species on Earth). We’re going to get what we deserve. We’re going to get what we earn,” he said.


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