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Live Q&A with T. Boone Pickens: Let's transform energy -- with natural gas.

This conversation will go Live at 11 am CT/ 12 pm EST. on March 20th, 2012.

I will be answering your questions/comments about my TEDtalk for 1 hour. Please submit your questions below.

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    Mar 20 2012: Sir, how can we know that in the long run natural gas will not give the world problems akin to what crude oil is giving namely high prices, polluting, insecurity, upheavals at point of production, exhaustible, etc.
    • Mar 20 2012: If we are afraid of those things then let's not do it. And stay dependent on OPEC oil. We have to use our own resources and manage as we go. But you can't take a 'give up' attitude and just resolve yourself to the staus quo. But we have a 100 year supply and that buys us a lot of time.
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        Mar 20 2012: I'm 100% for alternative energy and if natural gas can do that, then that's all good. At the back of my mind has been the urgent need for a better alternative preferably based on inexhaustible natural source. That will answer the problem of sustainability. I can see Africa joining Asia to be energy use intensive as USA and EU within the next 50 years. That will certainly put unbearable strain on supplies.
        • Mar 20 2012: I am solving most of my problems by producing my own power and growing most of my own food. If everyone took that step much of the demand would go down and we could make the big switch as a Nation.
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        Mar 20 2012: With all due respect Mr. Pickens, that is logical fallacy and you know it. you are limiting the choices to follow your plan or keep things the same, completely ignoring wind, solar, tidal, wave, and geothermal power. why is natural gas so much better then those infinite resources?
        • Mar 20 2012: He did say in his talk that renewables will not in the near term solve the national security issues poised by our dependance on oil. Natural gas, even if it is only used as a fuel by the 8 million semi's in the US, would essentially mean that the US would be oil INDEPENDENT. We could leave the middle east.
        • Mar 20 2012: Because in the USA it is cheaper. In other places where there is limted to nat gas wind, solar, geothermal might compete. Wind's cost curves were close in the USA when nag gas was $10-14 pmmbtu range, but shale plays made wind uneconomic.
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          Mar 20 2012: I am not an expert, but I suppose gas is more reliable than sun, wind, and tidal power, and probably cheaper to harvest than geothermal power. Also, if you consider that sun energy can best be "harvested" in desert regions, you are dependent on locations in zones that are still difficult to control... although I completely agree that a mix of all sorts of renewable energies, algae, and gas would be the most promising solution.
  • Mar 20 2012: With 2 mins left I wanted to say THANKS so much to TED and Mr. Pickens for this chat! This was great!
  • Mar 20 2012: T. Boone Pickens, would you be willing to write an article detailing your experience with fracking over the past 60 years? This seems to be the number one hesitation people have to natural gas. If we had a well articulated explanation about the process of fracking and it's history, perhaps it could alleviate some public concern. If not, do you have any references to solid articles addressing this?
    • Mar 20 2012: My best recommendation is to read all the facts out there and not just the New York Times. For example, visit www.anga.us (America's Natural Gas Alliance).
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    Mar 20 2012: There are new methods of natural gas storage being developed. We may be getting vehicles with longer ranges. If you want to talk about natural gas as a bridge fuel, you might want to look into natural gas as a bridge to hydrogen.

    Basically, by using the right lattice structures, one can store a lot more methane because the tanks the gas is filled with has far more surface area, which allows for more gas storage, since gas gathers around the surface of something while hectically bouncing around the larger areas of a container.

    So, the technology natural gas storage provides may be a bridge to hydrogen. Northwestern University is doing this research, so if you want to make a strong argument about natural gas being a bridge fuel, those scientists might be able to help.

    http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2011/11/mof-screening.html
    • Mar 20 2012: Great. I'm for anything American.
      • Mar 20 2012: Hi Mr Pickens,Unfortunately it seems my previous comment about Liquid Fluoride Thoriium reactors was deleted... Is there any reason why you would not consider investing in LFTRs? It is an unutilised US technology that I have been reading a lot about and the USA is giving it away to China right now. Surely it is a better intermediate than natural gas. I can not find a single solid argument to support natural gas over LTFR. H2 and synthetic diesel replacements could be generated with bolt-on technology so are more feasible for transport. Please feel free to investigate the Weinberg Foundation and other related LFTR. The US has enough Thorium to meet all of its power requirements for centuries and the technology is superior to Uranium light water reactor expoitation in every conceivable manner as far as I have researched.
        What are your thoughts sir?
  • Mar 20 2012: What can we do via Social Media to bring this message to a greater awareness.. TED is amazing, but this is a very tight niche of folks. Is there a place to send people, a video to get viral? How do we get folks to begin to wake up? I want to make a difference for my son, and its going take the voices of many. Thanks for your leadership.
    I have been the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Center you graciously built. Its awesome.
  • Mar 20 2012: What I pose is really a simple question. What would be possible if we took all oil and gas subsidies, costs and losses from disasters like the BP oil spill, the hidden cost of wars fought for access to these resources and applied them to green energy solutions?
    • Mar 20 2012: This type of hypothetical question is not that simple. I believe that research and technology is going to yield a better future. What I fear is that oil markets will continue to spiral out of control in the meantime. That's why I suggest we use a superior fuel (natural gas) while we wait for a new technology to arrive.
  • Mar 20 2012: In conclusion to a great session, the politicians are on the TV with a ham on their should everyday. We have the cheapest energy in the world in this country. Our gasoline price is half of Europe, natural gas price here is $2.50, Beijing $16 mcf, Mideast is $15, and Europe is $13. And oil here is $106/bbl and global price is $123/bbl. I can't understand why we don't get on our own resources. Join me in putting political pressure on Washington.

    Thanks for joining me. Enjoyed your questions and the conversation.
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    Mar 20 2012: Don't you think thiere has been enough damage to the environment and water sytems already. Fracking is a disaster and more research needs to be done. Drillers claim fracking does not pollute ground water and underground water supplies, called aquifers. But growing numbers of Americans, many in rural communities, report that wells and other water sources have become unusable since fracking operations started up nearbyCompanies inject into each well up to 8 million gallons of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure to create underground fractures that free up trapped natural gas. Commonly used chemicals include: carcinogenic benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and other toxics.
    EXPLOSIONS
    In December 2007, a Bainbridge, Ohio, home exploded after a natural gas company improperly drilled and fractured a nearby well. No one was injured, but releases of gas contaminated 23 water wells and forced evacuations of 19 homes.
    WASTEWATER
    Fracking a single well produces up to several million gallons of wastewater. In 2008, Pennsylvania authorities took remedial measures after determining that a water pollution control plant had accepted drilling wastewater that contaminated the Monongahela River.
    CHEMICAL SPILLS
    Gas drilling in shale deposits requires heavy use of chemicals. Spills happen. Pennsylvania authorities fined Cabot Oil & Gas $56,650 for three spills of hydraulic fracturing fluid near the town of Dimock in September 2009. Two of the spills polluted a wetland and caused a fish kill.
    TRUCK TRAFFIC
    Drilling can require 1,300 truck trips per well, often in areas where roads do not exist or are not built to handle heavy trucks. Trucks cause significant air and noise pollution and can spill their loads, endangering water supplies.
  • Mar 20 2012: Why is there need for the government to push in this direction? Isn't the market capable of doing this by itself?
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    Mar 20 2012: Shouldn't people think twice-- and double that again, before giving blind support to a new private industry where there stands to made billions of dollars for a few, and with so many environmental questions yet to be cleared? Do we want this industry in our back yards? Is it a healthy industry-- We dont know-- cleaner? how much cleaner . . but still not clean , not renewable. On a world wide scale removing a natural resource changes enviromental balance-- smart or not smart? Are we not concentrating enough effort getting off oil, getting and going local with goods and supplys. The BIG money in NG is not local-- its supply massive transportation industries; marine, trucking, air. Bottom line , Big Money?
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    Mar 20 2012: It would make sense to me to try to save as much of our hydrocarbon materials for the future so they will be available for making composite materials (plastics) rather than burning them now and dispusing them into the atmosphere where they cause gloabal warming and will not be available for use by future generations.

    If a million generations might inhabit our planet in the future, should we not save some hydrocarbons for them?
  • Mar 20 2012: Are you in favor of the three suggestions below to wean the US off of OPEC oil and place more investment in "green" technologies?

    1. Ban all Oil and Gas contributions to Political parties which runs in the tens of millions of doallrs per year.

    2. Ban all Oil and Gas companies from exporting any fossil fuels obtained from within the US or place a tariff on US fossil fuel exports to make it more attractive to keep in the US.

    3. And eliminate the over $46 billion in subsidies that Oil and Gas companies receive and put those subsidies towards "green" technologies.
    • Mar 20 2012: Why do we all think the oil and gas companies are the bad guys? I am not in favor of these three options.
      • Mar 20 2012: Unfortunately, until there is serious political action taken to take financial contributions out the equation, you will have a hard time changing the OPEC policy.
  • Mar 20 2012: How do you feel about natural gas flaring? I'm not a fan, but perhaps with your experiences in the field you would see it very differently. I think we're wasting fuel at an astonishing rate. Would you like to see flaring decrease globally?
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    Mar 20 2012: Mr Pickens

    It seems paradoxical that you lost so much money in wind power.

    Were you lobbying to get subsidized by the government?

    Did you not see the price drop coming because of fracking of natural gas?

    Doesn't the supply of a commodity become more prevalent as the price goes up and technology enters that market thus lowering the price as with fracking?
    • Mar 20 2012: Bad call on timing (wind power) and I'll be back with better timing. I may be a player in wind again.
  • Mar 20 2012: Looking at the numbers, if we double our natural gas consumption, we should be out in 20 years. Is it worth changing all the infrastructure for such a short-term project?
    • Mar 20 2012: So first off, I'm not talking about doubling our natural gas consumption, if all the 18 wheelers were converted it would be 15 bcf/day which would be about a 20% increase in demand. Second off, I think we have closer to 100 year supply, not the 40 year supply that you implied.
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        Mar 20 2012: running out in 40 or 100 is still running out. humans have been on this planet a very long time, and will be here a long time to come. we need to build a future for the species, not produce cheep fuel for industry.
      • Mar 20 2012: Mr. Pickens, the investment and energy required to convert all of the 18-wheelers to natural gas would not be worth the longterm commitment. Surely, as you admit that we must take action about CO2 emissions, it would be an inappropriate intermediate due to the effects of the required longterm commitment for NG conversion to be feasible. To hit the 80% targets we must consider realistic step-change technologies and methods rather than uncertain half measured steps. A 25%less CO2 is not satisfactory when looking for >80% reduction. Doesnt the math preclude the option?
  • Mar 20 2012: Good Morning everyone. I have basic question for you, We use a lot of Propane in our Vineyard. How does Natural Gas compare/compete with Propane?
  • Mar 20 2012: Please discuss initial cost and financing of moving truck fleets to the natural gas model. What kind of time frame do you project?

    Thanks!
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    Mar 20 2012: Considering natural gas is a finite resource, and for all intents and purposes solar and wind are unlimited sources of energy; considering the negative environmental impact of fracking for natural gas and the minimal negative effects from roof top solar and wind turbines; considering the new more modern designs for 40 acre vertical axis wind turbines and turbines designs that produce energy in as low as 2mph wind, and new higher efficiency solar panels and modern solar coatings; how can you hope to classify natural gas solutions as anything more then a temporary fix for the energy problems of our planet?
    • Mar 20 2012: There is currently so much natural gas available this really is not a current issue. The reserves are so high, there is no further storage space available. In addition, the industry is finding new ways to extract gas from shale resources that are abundant and not tapped before due to lack of technology.
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        Mar 20 2012: with all due respect, it is an issue. other wise we will be having the same discussion in 50-100 years with natural gas taking the place of traditional fossil fuels as the depleted resource. we cant just keep jumping from finite resource to finite resource. we will be a plague on the planet until we learn that key lesson.
        • Mar 20 2012: This resource is being considered for a transitional time not a forever solution. And right now there is so much natural gas available it will allow for the transition. I don't believe any solution is infinite. All use finite resources...including solar and wind power. For transportation purposes, I see the wisdom of converting to a natural gas plan.
    • Mar 20 2012: I answered the fracking question a minute ago. I would encourage everyone to look at the facts for themselves and not only rely upon mass media reports on fracking. I do not believe there is any danger in fracking.

      You probably will not be having the same discussion because natural gas is a domestic resource. The world has a lot of natural gas that is able to bridge us to the next great fuel breakthrough.
      • Mar 20 2012: If this is so true, then why did fracking need to be exempted from EPA clean air and water oversight? Why are we not allowed to know what you're putting in the dirt near our groundwater?

        So, who do you suggest has the answers? The news media doesn't report a comprehensive view of the situation, to be sure. However, I'm not going to trust some Lobbyist or PR firm that's never seen what actually happens.

        However, there's these documentaries where people actually *Go* to the places where this fracking has been going on. "Gas Land" and "Frack Nation". They seek to portray this process as disgusting. I've gotta say, they're pretty convincing. I don't see any of these documentary filmmakers brought up on libel or slander charges - by that fact alone, aren't your employers admitting some level of guilt?

        What, if anything in particular, can you point out to be different in your experience from these documentaries?
        • Mar 20 2012: Actually Frack Nation is setting out the facts that were ignored in Gas Land. Like in the areas where you can set the water on fire...that's been happening forever. Not a new thing.
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        Mar 20 2012: even if i were to believe the misleading data you are pointing me towards when it comes to fraking, what about the other concerns? what about still having energy in 100 years? why sell band aids to people who need heart transplants?
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    Mar 20 2012: Why invest in non-renewable technologies? What happened to your campaign and billion dollar investment in wind technology?
    • Mar 20 2012: As I've mentioned before, there is not a renewable source of energy that will do anything to address our national security issues in the short term. Even if we maximize wind and solar usage, they will only represent one component of the overall power generation mix. Wind and solar only run 30% of the time and are currently 2-4 times more expensive than conventional power.
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        Mar 20 2012: Again, if we just switch to the next finite resource we will simply be having a security discussion again in 50 years when some natural gas producing country has us on our knees. we must make the investment now in technology that will truly change the way we look at energy. not just keep looking for our next cheep fix like drug addicts looking to get high on the next hydrocarbon.
  • Mar 20 2012: Very interesting discussion regarding energy dependance. I feel that big oil is "all in" on their efforts of extracting, refining and distributing crude. Do you think that there would be a dramatic shift if the government was to heavily incentivize the quick transition to natural gas? For example, what if there was a 5 year, ZERO tax window on all domestic natural gas extraction, preparation and sales starting in 2013. Could we not also credit Big Oil for abandoning foreign and domestic crude operations with grants and/or subsidies? I'm not a huge fan of government intervention when it pertains to free markets but we have to be realistic and follow the money. Why not extend the same tax breaks to auto manufacturers that develop low emission, natural gas powered vehicles here in the US? And why stop there? How about a 10% income tax credit for anyone who converts to natural gas for their transportation needs? Couldn't these costs be easily made up by the economic boost that this cleaner energy initiative might bring to our economy? Let's start dangling the carrot in front of Big Oil and not the other way around.
    • Mar 20 2012: Great point.

      Boone mentions, in his talk, that the majority of the consumption of oil is spent on transportation. From what it seems, (pardon the caps) WE HAVE A TRANSPORTATION PROBLEM. In your comment you mentioned giving tax breaks, rewards, to companies that develop low emission, natural gas powered solutions. What would also be beneficial, in the long run, is to provide an incentive for cities or private institutions to create better infrastructures of living that would require less transportation.
      • Mar 20 2012: 100% agree with your point. Changes will not happen unless financial rewards are realistic. Let's incentivize everyone from cities and citizens to business and governments to take part in the paradigm shift. We overspend frivolously on military and foreign involvement yet it seems the majority of these issues could be righted or at least adressed by simply transitioning to local energy and smart development.
  • Mar 20 2012: Is there any real danger prevelant in fracking?
    • Mar 20 2012: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/frack_nation_W2iEGTptkM0ciT5EjyZJHO Excellent film being made called frack nation bringing about the facts regarding fracking.
    • Mar 20 2012: Practically no danger. Fracking has been going on for over 60 years. There have been over 800,000 wells fracked in OK and TX. We need to ensure public confidence. I'm for conducting operational audits on say 5% of those wells if that's what it takes to address public concerns, so long as it does not impede the development of this critical resource.
      • Mar 20 2012: This is why it is so important that the natural gas industry also focus on educating the public about these concerns. Frack Nation is working to do just that through an educational film about fracking.
      • Mar 20 2012: "So long as it doesn't impede the development of this critical resource?"

        Excuse me? If you want public confidence, submit to EPA regulation, just like the rest of the nation's industry does. We've seen companies "Self-regulate" in medicine, and we've noticed the myriad of drug recalls that follow.

        Submit to PUBLIC safety testing, or go home. If you want the country behind you, don't pretend that there is no conflict of interest in "self-testing."
  • Mar 20 2012: Thanks for encouraging a sensible approach to our energy problems. Where are we in establishing a retailing infrastructure to sell NG for vehicle fuel?
    • Mar 20 2012: We're focused on the heavy duty trucks (18 wheelers) and the infrastructure will come with the trucks and it's happening every day. And I have not found one trucker that has bought a truck that doesn't know where he is going to buy fuel. As far as retail infrastructure, the industry offers a garage refueling system that I have at my home. Retail usage is lagging commercial use right now but it will happen.
      • Mar 20 2012: I understand the cost of the garage refueling system is still pretty high. Is there something happening to support a lower cost so that it will be more appealing to the average user?
  • Mar 20 2012: Hey BIOGAS!

    Why not use gas from our organic waste? And create fertilizer in the process?

    There is a company in Munchen which is putting biogas into the networks. Bloody expensive though, even by the bloated standards of private utility companies.
    • Mar 20 2012: We are using landfill gas right now. Problem is, it is expensive and it's not as big as you might think.
  • Mar 20 2012: Hi T. Boone. Why not look into something more sensible like solar? We can run out of natural gas, just as we are oil... and water..
    • Mar 20 2012: They are not feasible solutions for the time being. It does not mean that alternative solutions such as solar, wind, and others shouldn't be extensively researched, tried, and tested.

      What Boone is providing is a feasible solution to provide energy now, for the time being, until we find that alternative energy solution that will supply to our demands.
    • Mar 20 2012: How does solar solve our national security issue? Remember oil accounts for 2/3 of our transportation use and a battery doesn't move an 18 wheeler. Having said that, I do believe that solar has a future in power generation but that is not the crisis I am trying to fix right now.
  • Mar 20 2012: Boone, OSU and SAE alumni here, thank you for all your generous donations. What is the main reason or reasons you believe the government isn't making a more concerted effort to move away from OPEC?
    • Mar 20 2012: Mr Brown. I dunno about other countries (ironically even mine). But as for morocco, they are making efforts to move away from Opec.
  • Mar 20 2012: Mr PIckens As a proud Oklahoman the two Senators Coburn and Inhofe have called global warming a hoax, debunked evolution and thereby questioning Einstein. What are you views and on these issues and how can we trust a our government if psuedo science is given preference?
  • Mar 20 2012: I can imagine it isn't as big as possibly hoped for.
    But if a city's entire organic-waste was cooked, couldn't that contribute sizeably?

    Also if gas-usage was limited to certain feilds, perhaps heating water or cooking or industrial process. A process in which that intense instant heating is required?

    Limit the need not only the supply?

    also - the more there is the cheaper it becomes, no? isn't that the entire theory behind the capitalists' arguments for world betterment through business?
  • Mar 20 2012: Where is the evidence that fracking is safe, besides "we've been doing it for years"?