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Energy 2011: Disinherit the Wind

by Kevin D. Williamson

Mr. Pickens seeks a subsidy

Spend any time in West Texas, and you’ll get used to leaning into the wind. So persistent is the wind that a legend has it that it stopped blowing once for half a minute and all the chickens fell over between Amarillo and San Angelo. If the locals could take wind and barrel it up like they do oil, or pipe it around like they do gas, they’d be living like sultans in the Saudi Arabia of wind. But they can’t. And somebody needs to explain that to T. Boone Pickens.

Mr. Pickens is trying to sell Congress something called the Pickens Plan, a madcap, Rube Goldberg political contraption designed to appeal to the worst elements of American politics — corporate self-dealing, xenophobia, economic illiteracy — while directing billions of dollars of subsidies into businesses in which Mr. Pickens has a financial interest. The plan goes like this: T. Boone Pickens and associates build some enormous wind farms on the Great Plains, which will produce a great deal of electricity. Unfortunately, the Great Plains are sparsely populated, and the current infrastructure for transmitting electricity would not support the efficient transmission of power from Mr. Pickens’s wind farms to the country’s population centers. So, somebody has to build a new system, and somebody has to pay for it: Mr. Pickens is nominating the American taxpayer to play that role.

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