Sometimes Oil Men Should Just Shut Up

Sometimes oil men and energy executives are a big disappointment.

When times are good, they talk a good game about being free marketeers, “Just get out of our way; drill, baby, drill!”

But when Washington starts passing out free money, they’re fighting like pigs at a trough for their more-than-fair share.

You can bet, when they start suggesting government policy, they have an angle.

Item: T. Boone Pickens, he of the Pickens Plan to convert our vehicle fleet to compressed natural gas, and the Great Plains to one big wind farm. From the Houston Chronicle, Jan. 6:

[The Pickens Plan] would require spending about $1 trillion on building thousands of wind power turbines from the Texas Panhandle to North Dakota and another $200 billion to run transmission lines to major cities. Billions more would be spent helping owners of large vehicle fleets buy natural gas-fueled vehicles. …

“The government-heavy Pickens Plan was a bad deal back in the $140 oil, easy-credit days, and it is far worse now,” said Robert Bradley, founder and chairman of the Houston-based Institute for Energy Research, a free-market think tank. “Ratepayers and taxpayers should just say no to billionaire Boone.”

Pickens acknowledged his plan is a step back from the free market ideology he has embraced for so long.

“The free market is fine, but waiting on the free market sometimes can be disastrous,” he said. “I think you’re at a point where you have to act, and we have the resources here to solve the problem in a way that could be cheaper.” [emphasis mine]

Oh, shut up, Boone.

Then there’s this from ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (H/T Rush):

In a speech today in Washington, Mr. Tillerson said that he much prefers a carbon tax—rather than a cap-and-trade scheme—if the government takes steps to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

“My greatest concern is that policy makers will attempt to mandate or ordain solutions that are doomed to fail,” Mr. Tillerson said, reports Dow Jones Newswires. “A carbon tax would be a more direct and transparent approach,” he said.

Endorsing a tax on your primary product? XOM doesn’t take positions like this for altruistic reasons; in fact, none of the majors do. I’m just guessing now – but I’d bet that they see that BP and Shell have them outflanked on cap-and-trade: somebody has to make the markets, after all, and who better than the companies that have already thrown in the towel on AGW. They already have massive trading operations in place for crude oil, natural gas and other energy commodities; carbon credits will be just one more market for them.