It never hurts to check up on what T. Boone Pickens is saying and doing. The Texas oilman, corporate raider, and philanthropist has serious cred, and it's unlikely that he's giving interviews in order to pump up his investments. His portfolio is well known, and, as he says, "There isn't anybody who can talk a commodity market up more than three or four minutes. The fundamentals will take over at some point."
In a recent interview with the Houston Business Journal, he reiterated his view that global oil production has already peaked:
PICKENS: I think you'll see $80 oil before the end of the year. There's no question in my mind that oil has peaked. If you've already peaked, you'll start to decline. Can you replace it? Probably not.
There's obviously a lot of disagreement on this, but Boone's position is worth noting. Moving on to electrical power generation, he voiced concern on natural gas:
Q: Here in Texas we're struggling with our long-term power-plant needs, trying to pick among coal or nuclear or natural gas. I guess you'd pick nuclear to fuel the Texas plants?
PICKENS: Yes. You've got to get nuclear in because you don't have the other fuel to supply it, unless it's coal. You're not going to have enough natural gas.
You would think that Texas would have access to plenty of natural gas, but Pickens's calculations must show that it won't be enough for a serious ramp-up of gas-fired power plants. Pickens, a stalwart Republican and big fundraiser for presidential contender Rudy Giuliani, has recently endeared himself to greens with plans to build the nation's largest wind farm near Amarillo in west Texas, a burgeoning center for wind energy.
Pickens summed up his emerging ethos to the WSJ recently:
I'm an environmentalist because caring for what we have is a reality that is going to be on page one a long time. We have got to pay for that, and I think we can do that without damaging our economy."
I think that's a sentiment that will resonate on both ends of the political spectrum.