A news item released yesterday quotes oil and natural gas investor T. Boone Pickens saying, “The biggest deterrent to an energy plan in America is Koch Industries.” His reasoning? That we support market prices for natural gas.
Mr. Pickens has stated that he is standing up for the American people by lobbying Congress for the passage of the NAT GAS Act. However, as The Atlantic reported, the NAT GAS Act is a scheme to get tax breaks from the government – in the form of another government subsidy – in order to increase the number of natural gas-powered tractor-trailers and heavy trucks on U.S. roads. What’s less well-known is that Mr. Pickens is the major shareholder in BAF Technologies, self-described as “the leading provider of natural gas vehicle systems and conversions in the U.S.”
Mr. Pickens is a savvy investor and we respect his experience in the energy industry. He understands the laws of supply and demand – that when demand for natural gas vehicles goes up, so will natural gas prices, and that price hike will benefit his substantial investments in natural gas markets and related businesses. If enacted, Mr. Pickens stands to benefit richly from the NAT GAS legislation at the expense of American taxpayers.
Overregulation, subsidies, and cronyism distort the marketplace and result in higher energy prices for every American. We do not believe government should be picking winners and losers in the marketplace based on the industries or products it chooses to subsidize. Government has a terrible record in doing so – both here and abroad. History shows us that the free market, driven by consumer choice, is a far better way to allocate resources. The Center for American Progress, a partisan activist group closely aligned with President Obama to which Mr. Pickens contributed $453,250 in 2008 and 2009, has joined in Mr. Pickens’ attack on Koch. This is additional proof that Mr. Pickens’ position is nothing more than cynical cronyism that is totally contrary to free-market principles.
Members of Congress who have consistently opposed this misguided legislative cronyism should be commended. Their efforts to stop yet another subsidy from being foisted on the American taxpayer are laudable.