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American Lung Association Supports Pickens Plan

The American Lung Association last week announced its support of the Pickens Plan. (Earlier post.) The Pickens Plan focuses on investing in renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, and using natural gas for fleet transportation.

Every person is dependent upon clean air for health and vitality. Yet millions of Americans are consistently exposed to pollution at levels that are scientifically proven to be harmful. The American Lung Association applauds Mr. Pickens’ goal of harnessing cleaner energy alternatives because cleaner energy will make our air healthier to breathe. The American Lung Association is enthusiastic about engaging in this effort to build further support for the Pickens Plan. Cleaner energy, such as the wind and solar power that the Pickens Plan recommends, is a solution that we support.

—Steve Nolan, Chairman of the American Lung Association

Lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The American Lung Association is one of the foremost defenders of the Clean Air Act. The organization publishes the State of the Air Report each year, which ranks the nation’s most polluted cities, and is a strategic leader on the impact of air quality on health.



What the Pickens Plan doesn't explain is why we ought to use our new-found slack in electricity generation to eliminate natural gas instead of eliminating the burning of coal and oil.

From an air pollution perspective and from a climate change perspective, we're best off eliminating the burning of the coal [and dirty oil]. Building an entirely new fueling infrastructure sure as heck isn't cost or carbon neutral either. So, here's the stomv plan:

1. Dramatically increase production of renewable electricity.
2. Universal real time metering [and pricing] to encourage people to demand shift where possible, allowing more of the intermittent power like wind and solar to count as base load.
3. Work PHEVs hard. Research and development, etc. I'd also use a feebate system to discourage the purchase of low mpg vehicles and encourage the purchase of high mpg vehicles. This lowers gasoline demand.
4. 2 + 3 mean that there's batteries on the grid at all times. Electricity is cheaper at night [and under heavy winds so to speak], and that's when the autos will charge. If there's a 3pm surge in demand [or drop in supply], some cars will be programed to sell some juice back to the system at a nice profit.
5. Mass transit. Spend some serious cash there too, with the goals of reducing gasoline consumption.
6. Massive government jobs program to weatherize homes, with the goals of reducing oil, natural gas, and electric waste.
7. Change Schedule A so that only the first x square feet of a home plus y square feet per dependent has the interest subsidy. There's no reason for government policy to encourage large homes.

End result:
1. Lowers carbon footprint by allowing the shutting down of coal fired power plants.
2. Lowers need to build new plants by shifting demand so that utilization of existing plants increases.
3. Reduces oil consumption.
4. Lowers need to build new plants by shifting supply so that utilization of existing planes increases.
5. Reduces oil consumption.
6. Reduces oil, natural gas, electricity consumption.
7. Long term reduces oil, natural gas, electricity consumption as well as gasoline [oil] consumption by encouraging denser neighborhoods.

There's no reason to spend the money converting our fueling infrastructure to natural gas. It's a non sequitur.


As I recall, the plan involves eliminating imported fuel, which would be oil. He stated wind in the mid-west should be able to power the country, forgetting that the southwest has lots of solar. He wants natural gas to power cars, or use electric energy for that.

Natural gas is not 100% clean, just cleaner. It appears to be more available than previously thought, as there have been new techniques developed for getting to gas in old fields. Most notably would be the fields reopening around Denver. What Mr Pickens failed to mention, is that recovery techniques are not 100% clean and the air in CO is being negatively impacted. The skies now hold the orange haze that used to be apparent in the LA basin.

The used to be in the LA basin is a nasty side comment. The LA basin no longer has the dominate orange tinted air, the ports have altered the color to areas of grey + orange. His plan is better than what we have, but heavily slanted to favor an industry which he profits from. Natural gas cars are not clean cars. Further, he does not address the issue of port operations or better energy plans for trains. His plan is far from a completely thought out package, if reduction of green house gases is supposed to be a goal.

The Lung Association correctly, is very concerned with the damage done by small particulate and ultra-fine particulate. These unseen particles of combustion damage heart, lungs, thicken blood and can even alter brain function: these comments are based on research from local universities. Natural gas is cleaner in this area than our current fuel system. Additionally, vehicles using natural gas appear to last longer than cars using gasoline, as there is less wear on some of the moving parts. In the meeting I attended, where Mr Pickens spoke, some current users of natural gas have the ability to fuel their vehicles at home. A cleaner option in the southwest, would be solar on the roof and plug-ins/extended range plug-in in the driveway. (H has possibilities, if they ever figure out how to clean up/speed up the conversion to make that an easy to access fuel.)

Kit P

The is no plan in the Pickens scam. The leading cause of dying is getting old. There is a lot of that going around.

I have no problem with NG as a POV fuel but even when NG in North America was very cheap there was little acceptance of NG.

John Taylor

I like half of the Pickens Plan. The half where the wind turbines get built.

After that ... I recommend ditching the oil, the coal and the natural gas (except for emergency & peaking power).

Cars can and should run BEV.

Dan A

I was skeptical of Pickens Plan until I further understood it. He's not pushing too much for natural gas to be used for light vehicles, as PHEVs/EVs can deal with them, but rather for things like long distance trucks. Batteries will never give a sufficient range or recharge time to be effective on long haul trucks (although I suppose fuel cells could). Also, considering the present cost of diesel and compliance with emissions standards, that does make a lot of sense.

The only thing that really gets me is that wind power is highly variable, which would mean more natural gas would be needed for electricity, unless you used PHEVs/EVs with a smart grid for load balancing, wouldn't it?

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Natural gas is an excellent choice for fleet and heavy duty vehicles. It's amazing folks on this site object to the Plan if focused on fleet vehicles.

1. Cheaper than oil on a fuel basis, almost entirely domestic, and abundant reserves due to deep shale deposits;
2. 20% lower greenhouse gas emissions, and 80%-90% lower criteria emissions, particularly when spiked with hydrogen, reducing health care costs and lung cancer rates in congested urban areas.
3. Greenhouse gas emissions drop by 90% relative to diesel and/or gasoline when potentially abundant Biogas from a variety of biomass sources is added seamlessly to a national transmission and distribution network;
4. Refueling infrastructure is affordable for Fleets, and there is no need to build a new pipeline network similar to Ethanol or congest highways and rail with fuel transport;
5. HEVs and BEV may be the way to go for LDVs, but hauling around 400 pound batteries takes a lot of energy regardless of the source, and is not practical for long range heavy duty vehicles that can burn LNG or CNG;


Kit P "The is no plan in the Pickens scam. The leading cause of dying is getting old. There is a lot of that going around."

You are terribly ignorant. Asthma kills children. Small particle and ultra-fine pollution can cause a specific heart birth defect. Children raised in areas of high pollution do not recover full lung function even if they move, in childhood, to a cleaner environment. Your comments are cruel


Simply converting the 800,000 North American bus fleet to CNG, CNG/electric hybrid would help significantly. With high cycle batteries like NanoSafe, and CNG - hybrid buses can reduce fossil fuel use by nearly two thirds.

T Boone needs to understand his profit position with NG hurts his credibility. The wind component is a good one - if he can emphasize the fleet application better - the whole deal will begin to smell better.

Looks like there are pockets of natural gas school buses throughout the US:


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