Book Review – The First Billion is the Hardest

Joanna Schroeder

tboonepickensWith the economy in the toilet, I thought I’d get a little inspiration from T. Boone Pickens’ book, The First Billion is the Hardest.” I don’t know about you, but for me the first million is still eluding me…. Pickens was originally known as an oil guy, but today is best known for his role in promoting wind energy and natural gas in the automotive sector. He is also the single largest owner of water rights in Texas (a commodity he is hoping to make millions on).  One other thing he is known for is his lack of support for biofuels such as ethanol—although he cedes he rather support biofuels than pay trillions of dollars for oil from the Middle East.

The majority of his book travails his business life and it is heartening to learn that he both succeeded and failed in his ventures. Ironically, he was out of oil and in his late 70s when he actually made his first billion. But at the end of the book, he briefly lays out his energy plan.

However, before he does that, he has a message for those of you who think we can domestically drill our way out of our oil problem. Consider Pickens’ three rules of energy:

1)    The cost of finding oil and gas is always higher than you originally think.
2)    Oil and gas always take longer than expected to get on production.
3)    Discoveries are never as large as producers originally think.

There are a few things that he agrees with several others (Freidman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded and Hakes, A Declaration of Energy Independence) that if we don’t act now, it will be too late; we must consider a heavier gas tax to encourage conservation along with the development of domestic renewable energy sources; we need to subsidize renewable energy such as wind and solar to get it off the ground; and we need an administration that has the courage to make tough decisions for America, not popular ones. Let’s hope for our country’s sake that President Obama is just that person.

Pickens ends by saying that his energy plan is not for himself but for future generations. I think we need to take the attitude that a balanced energy plan based on domestic renewable fuels is for all generations. While you digest that, I’m going to begin writing my memoirs, “The First Million Was The Easiest…”




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