Friday, August 22, 2008

T. Boone Pickens Getting Into The Water Business As Well

If you thought T. Boone's plan for getting us to substitute natural gas and wind power for overseas oil all while having huge interests in natural gas futures and wind energy companies was brilliant, you will love his entry into the water business.

It seems T. Boone owns a large ranch in Texas that just so happens to sit on one of the largest aquifers in the country, so large in fact that it reaches all the way up into South Dakota. He wanted to sell this water but ran into a problem that South Dakotan's are intimately familiar with. How to get the water from the aquifer to where he wanted to sell it. A pipeline would be the best option of course but how could a private citizen get the right of way to run it on all those parcels of privately owned land, and how would he finance it?

T. Boone, a billionaire for a reason, figured it out. He started his own town, held an election, sold tax free government bonds, and plans to used eminent domain to run his pipeline.
Then he turned this parcel into a town, basically, with only two eligible voters — both of whom were his employees. (This required a change in Texas law in 2007 — a change facilitated no doubt by his $1.2 million in campaign contributions to Texas legislators in 2006). Then
there was an election in this district, in which both voters voted to make this 8-acre municipality a special fresh-water district.

Pickens’ wholly owned government entity now can issue tax-free bonds (meaning he can borrow at a serious discount) and use the power of eminent domain to pressure landowners to sell — or to take their land if they hold out. The eminent domain power is key to building the
pipeline that will run this water down to the Dallas area, where Pickens hopes to sell the water. If your land lies in the path of his proposed pipeline, you got a letter explaining that T. Boone wants to buy a stretch of your land — and explaining that he can use eminent domain if you resist. If this begins to sound too cutthroat to the public, Pickens just reminds journalists and politicians that following this water pipeline will be the transmission cables for Pickens’ mammoth wind farm.

Remember this if and when T. Boone sets up his proposed wind farms here in South Dakota and needs to get transmission lines run to his newly generated wind energy to market.

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