Blog Post

LA Times Knocks Off T. Boone's Green Halo

The Los Angeles Times does an eloquent body slam on the green halo floating over T. Boone Pickens’ head today. Pickens’ plan to use natural gas-powered vehicles for a third of U.S. transportation turns out to have a very self-serving interest, which could also be funded by billions from California taxpayers. OK, so we knew Pickens is a savvy businessman, but we can’t help but feel a little let down — please, a moment of silence for our crushed idealism.

Alright; all done. So here’s why you should be concerned. Reporter Anthony Rubenstein writes in the LA Times that Pickens owns natural gas fueling station company Clean Energy Fuels, which of course would benefit tremendously from the Pickens Plan’ call to boost natural gas vehicles. But more interestingly, Rubenstein says Clean Energy Fuels is the only backer of a proposition on California’s November ballot that calls for the sale of $5 billion in general fund bonds for clean energy incentives. “[B]y the time the principal and the interest is paid off,” he writes, “it would squander at least $9.8 billion in taxpayer money on Pickens’ self-serving natural gas agenda.”

Ah, so that’s who’s supposed to fund T. Boone’s plan. We were wondering about that. The is proposition is also supposedly filled with a “laundry list of cash grabs” for natural gas vehicles, many of which could go straight to Clean Energy Fuels. Hey Californians, watch out for Prop 10. Like us, Rubenstein sheds a tear for the newly minted green leader, and says he almost prefers to think that Pickens is being misled by his lawyers and consultants.

18 Responses to “LA Times Knocks Off T. Boone's Green Halo”

  1. Mark Madler

    What does $30,000 a month and a 7% fee on every dollar raised to support Prop. 10 and Anthony Rubenstein have in common??? Yep, you guessed it. It would be Rubenstein’s proposal to work on the Prop. 10 campaign submitted in March of 2008. I guess when prospective clients of Rubenstein say “no” to him, he bad mouths them and distorts the goodness of their work to every newspaper that chooses not to fact check an article. No, no, the LA Times was not alone in printing Rubenstein’s loaded twist of the facts. The Mercury News and the Fresno Bee also got duped this past week.

    What omissions or twists does Rubenstein make specifically, you ask? First, Rubenstein fails to mention that Prop. 10 substantially funds solar, wind and other renewable energy projects. Clearly, the ballot measure is not just about bringing clean vehicles that achieve high mileage or run on affordable alternatives to oil. Further, it doesn’t give a penny to liquefied natural gas terminals as Rubenstein claims. I had to re-read the Proposition just to confirm that Rubenstein cannot read. Turns out he can’t add either based on other bogus arguments that he makes in his editorial. I think UCLA should demand their diploma back and, truthfully, it’s Rubenstein’s lack of ethics that I find appalling, not Prop. 10. Finally, Rubenstein claims that anyone from out of state can receive Prop. 10 funds to purchase a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric vehicle, natural gas vehicle, or a fuel cell vehicle but he fails to tell you that the applicant must submit proof of California residency and vehicle registration. This purchase requirement is under Section 26420 (a)(4) of Prop. 10, but maybe the details bore Rubenstein?

    Oh, and last time I checked, Boone Pickens is a shareholder, not the owner, of publicly traded Clean Energy. Rubenstein is such an ego-maniac that if I followed his logic on Boone and subsequently learned he owned a single share of some green company, he’d probably tell you that he was its owner and founder. After all, Rubenstein claims that he was the champion and the force behind Prop. 87. I wonder what Steve Bing thinks about this claim after expending tens of millions of his own personal money to pass the measure. If I were Steve, I would not be amused. To conclude, Rubenstein steals Kermit the Frog’s quote on his self-glorified website that “it isn’t easy being green”. After reading Rubenstein’s attacks on Prop. 10, it isn’t easy for Rubenstein to be honest either. Look out Pinocchio! You have new competition and he might even borrow some of your lines for his website if it will make him a buck.

  2. I don’t think it should come as a surprise that the Pickens Plan is based on products that its namesake would profit from. He’s a businessman after all.

    The real question you need to ask is whether he’s pushing natural gas because he owns a company that supplies it, or does he own a company that supplies it because he believes that’s the right fuel for the future. If natural gas cars make sense for the country (economically and environmentally), then he’s a savvy pioneer. He predicted the fuel of the future, invested his own money in it and is now promoting it.

    My personal take on the NG aspect of the Pickens Plan is that he’s missing an opportunity to take NG cars to the next level: an NG serial hybrid.

  3. Natural gas just like oil will increase in price drastically as supplies dwindle due to increasing demand. tboone wants to get a little of that action, just like big oil and nuclear. Forget developing the need for any non-renewable energy source, when we increasingly have the technical capability to free ourselves from just these types of boondoggles.

  4. Lavender

    In the political world, with so many agendas crashing around all over the place, it’s impossible to find one plan/piece of legislation/goal even that will please everyone. People have been complaining for years that big money/oil hasn’t put anything towards renewable energy- finally someone is, and thank goodness. But now that someone like T Boone is, people are complaining that he will make money off of it. Of course a profit is one of the goals of a savvy businessman! But T Boone’s motives aren’t only cash-based. He is a true patriot and believes that America has a plethora of reasons to reduce its dependency on foreign oil. And who can argue with that? We need government support, but we also need private investment, which will only come when there is a profit involved.

  5. sallyjo

    Let’s be realistic- we need to do something now, and T boone is the only one out there offering America something truly tangible in the terms of solving our energy crisis. Yes, he will make a profit, yes there are always going to be other options and ideas that are not included in the plan, but so far it is a remarkable plan with a wide range of all-encompassing energy plans and solutions. Go T boone.

  6. Jack Hecko

    This is going to get more expensive every year we procrastinate on it. The wave of the future will be alternative power and energy, our governments need to take the lead at all levels; local, state, and federal to provide the necessary infrastructure for business leaders and entrepreneurs to start cultivating the new technology. T. Boone is one such entrepreneur; and his contributions should be encouraged through a helpful government.

  7. Larry Durbin

    I thought E-85 was going to be a big part of the answer to foreign oil’s death grip but that doesn’t seem to be working out too well for us. I’m now convinced wind, solar, natural gas, our own oil, and ethanol can, in combination, make us independent. And when that day comes we should make it a Holiday … our second Independence day!
    Now if we could create some incentives to get lost jobs back from the far east we could actually afford this noble cause. But there’s more talk than action because there’s no money with jobs leaving the country … just as Ross predicted.

  8. Joe Bruin

    I live in California and I think Prop 10 sucks. I don’t mind supporting alternative energy but this proposition clearly favors natural gas over other alternative energy programs. Natural gas is not renewable so it’s not a long term solution. I’d rather support programs like solar thermal and cellulosic ethanol.

  9. Rubenstein sounds like he’s angrier about Proposition 10 than Pickens plan itself.

    I’m no huge proponent for Pickens, but Rubenstein has a few things dead wrong. First, NG is a very clean fuel. The cleanest car on the road today is the Honda GX, which runs on natural gas. Second, methane, the main component of Natural Gas, IS a renewable fuel. It is easier to produce from biomass source NOW than ethanol from cellulose ever will be.

    Pickens needs to include PHEVs in his plan. As does Agassi.

  10. Jeff Kuper

    I know we all realize this but it’s good to remember that a position or a policy is neither good nor bad just because a good or bad person holds it. I think I would rather have somebody invest (spend their own resources) in what they believe than merely call for the government to take action. In that light, I’m glad Pickens is into natural gas and wind but truly it’s shocking, just shocking, that a big business person is trying to influence policy that would put more cash in their own pocket.

    Another way to put it, are Carbon Offsets bad (or good) merely because Gore has invested in a company that sells carbon credits?

  11. David B

    This is so typical. OF COURSE TBP wants to make money on the deal. Show me somebody who’s not finanicially motivated and I’ll show you a liar.

    Just because he wants to make money doesn’t mean that it’s not a good cause. I bought my CNG vehicle… bottom line, because there will be $2k+ per year extra in my bank due to fuel savings. Does that mean that I’m not happy that it’s an environmental boon as well? Or that I’m helping to reduce our outflow to foreign oil companies?

    Of course not, I reap multiple benefits from my fiduciary decision. I also suffer some inconvenience due to that decision.. now I fuel every day instead of twice per week. A small trade off. More americans should be willing to be open minded about this.

    Somebody is going to make money, whoever it is, better it stays in the US than going over to OPEC.

    And somewhere along the way, the earth will become a little greener. People are slowly becoming more concienscious of their impact on mother nature, but we all need to act now, and in some cases, we need to act drastically.

  12. Did the LA Times expect Pickens to pay for it all himself?

    It is silly to think that Pickens isn’t trying to make some money through this. It is sillier still to suggest that is a bad thing. We are not going to be able to really shift to green power until someone figures out how to make money doing so.

    The reason we are finally starting to see more green startups is not because people businesses are suddenly worried about the environment. It is because with the rising cost of oil, renewable energy sources are finally becoming economically viable.

    If it was Al Gore floating this proposal, and he was heavily invested in Natural Gas, then I’m betting the LA Times would have titled this article “Al Gore: Putting his money where his mouth is.”

  13. gadget guy

    oops, you made a big mistake. anthony rubenstein is not a la times reporter. check out the bio at the end. he’s a consultant…with an agenda, obviously