When It Comes To Water, Pickens Is Far From Green

Easy Pickens?

"While touting his plan to wean us off foreign oil, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens says little of his intention to market fossil water. Thanks to help he obtained from the Texas Legislature, he has stacked the board of a tiny water district and by the power of eminent domain also granted him by the Legislature, he can force landowners to sell him rights to a 320-mile strip of land by which he will pipe the water down the same corridor to Dallas that he plans to use transmitting his wind power. But Pickens is just one of thousands of capitalists who sell precious Ogallala water for private gain. Like him, they are aided by government.

Pickens shouldn't be allowed to sell 65 billion gallons a year as he proposes, but neither should Plains farmers be allowed to pump 6.2 trillion gallons annually, over half of which is poured onto corn. With populations increasing and global warming likely to cause widespread drought, we should redirect the billions we spend on corn subsidies and take control from local water districts. Under federal or state control, we could end Texas's 'right of capture' policy, which parcels water to the landowner with the biggest pump."

Julene Bair is a writer and author of One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter. She will soon complete Where Rivers Run Sand, a personal account of the crisis facing the Ogallala Aquifer.
How outrageous is this? That one man could use his wealth and political favors to secure ownership of what is a human right in order to sell it for his own profit. This is a blatant example of using the current water crisis we face for personal gain. People like T. Boone Pickens have no soul as far as I am concerned, and we now know the real story behind his so called green wind initiative.

Water for this plan would come from the panhandle section of the Ogallala Aquifer. As one of the largest underground aquifers in the world, the Ogallala runs from Texas to South Dakota and a century ago was said to hold more water than Lake Huron. Since then, cheap electric pumps gave farmers the power to bring water up hundreds of feet, and the depletion began. This aquifer waters a little over one-fifth of the nation's irrigated land, and is steadily being depleted due to population growth, overuse, ineffective agricultural methods that waste trillions of gallons a year, and now global warming/climate change in the form of drought. See my previous entry on this: Devastating Drought Settles On The High Plains. It is a ripe area for exploitation, and that is exactly what T. Boone Pickens is doing. He is hoping to sell this scarcer water at a high price to make a profit from it. A green venture? Hardly.

And the Ogallala isn't the same as rivers or lakes. There is no source of replenishment. It holds "fossil water" which has been sealed underground for hundreds of thousands of years. Once it's gone it's gone forever... again, forever. However, as the Ogallala Aquifer's water level continues to decline, Pickens is looking to expand its usage and more than likely that includes making even more profit agriculturally from ethanol production.

So the wind mills... a diversionary ruse on the part of an oil man posing as a green convert who supported George W. Bush to the hilt and is now being repaid for it at the expense of a precious resource now more precious than oil? A resource of the Ogallala that should not belong to him exclusively, or any one farmer over another. This is why Texas' 'right of capture' policy must be stopped in order to preserve the declining water level of the Ogallala Aquifer and to protect it from vulture capitalists who seek to steal it.

These states need to stand up for their water!