Fenger Pointing
Pickens our pocket

Becky Fenger | May 27, 2009

Becky FengerWhen President Barack Obama spoke at Arizona State University's graduation ceremonies recently, he opened his talk by apologizing to Arizonans for snatching away our Gov. Janet Napolitano to head his Department of Homeland Security. Don't pity us, Mr. President. We'll live without her, believe me. But it would have been gracious of Obama to also take the $3 billion in debt that Napolitano left us with when she took her low heels and high spending ways to D.C.
Back in August of 2008, Gov. Napolitano wrote publicly: "Global climate change is one of the most serious issues facing our state and the world – and it's a threat we're taking strong steps to combat in Arizona." One of those strong steps the little woman took was to steal monies from the Honeywell Supplemental Environmental Project slated for environmental cleanup. She wanted the cash for her pet project, the Western Climate Initiative, which purports to help God halt global warming. (God is already on the case, by the way, since the planet has been cooling for almost a decade.)

Another high profile name that has gotten things wrong while appearing altruistic is T. Boone Pickens. He was the toast of the town last summer and picked up a lot of converts. While he was spending $58 million of his pocket change to inundate the airwaves with his Texas drawl, he had more on his mind than turning the U.S. into the Saudi Arabia of Wind Power. Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center, wants us to know that the loveable old fella plans to get filthy rich with other people's water and is using the wind mills as a smokescreen. Here's how clever the plan is. Pickens took 8 acres of a ranch he owns in Roberts County, Texas – a county that just happens to sit on top of the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest underground reservoirs whose tentacles stretch all the way to South Dakota – and set them aside.

As DeWeese notes, in order to drill into that aquifer, Pickens turned those 8 acres into a town. First he needed a change in Texas law to pull that off. No one is saying that the million-plus dollars that Pickens gave the community influenced the right lawmakers, but Pickens got his micro-mini town along with a total of two voters who just happened to vote to make Pickensville a special fresh-water district. Neat, huh?

The coolest thing about Pickensville is that T. Boone now has the power to issue tax-free bonds at low rates and the hammer of eminent domain. Since he plans to run a pipeline for his water to the Dallas area where he can sell the liquid gold, he can also use the path for his wind power. Double neat, huh?

Of course, his pipeline will necessarily need to cross a lot of precious private land. Not to worry. Pickens can send them a "Dear Landowner" letter and, if they refuse to sell, he can snatch it using eminent domain. Isn't it nice when a dude who is down on his luck (his hedge fund lost $2 billion last year) can reclaim the American Dream with just a little scheming.

The problem is, "Virtually every claim made by T. Boone Pickens to justify the lavish subsidies he is seeking for his wind energy investments is flat wrong," Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, divulges. I never thought I would have to suffer through this ludicrous economy just so the feds could give my taxes to Pickens so he can get his $2 billion back, as he vowed he would. And much, much more.

It thrills the cockles of my heart that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has personally invested in Picken's clean energy fuels corporation (CLNE) which solely sponsored a proposal in California to direct $5 billion in state funds (and an equal amount of federal funds) to his giant wind farm. Doesn't San Fran Nan know that California is flat broke, busted, belly up? Or maybe nobody briefed her on the fact that her staffer was briefed on California's plight.