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T. Boone Pickens in 2016. Photo: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

T. Boone Pickens, who made billions investing in oil and gas, died Wednesday of natural causes at age 91, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Where it stands: "Pickens wasn't a billionaire when he died, with his last reported net worth standing at a mere $500 million. That's because he'd given away more than $1 billion to philanthropic and educational causes."

My thought bubble: He was my first-ever interview in energy more than a decade ago, and we spoke many times over the years. One of the first stories he told me centered on how it’s the first billion dollars that is the hardest to make — right after he wrote a book bearing that title.

  • Another time at a conference, I ordered an Arnold Palmer to drink as we were talking, and he told me about golfing with the legendary Arnold Palmer. "Pickens was known for mixing humor with the most serious of topics," the Morning News obituary said. We were probably talking about something serious, but I don’t remember that part.

One level deeper: In 2008, "Pickens launched his self-funded, $100 million grass-roots campaign aimed at reducing America's crippling addiction to OPEC oil by boosting U.S. adopting wind, solar and especially natural gas," per the Morning News. He eventually dropped his efforts with wind and focused more on natural gas.

Go deeper: Read the whole 22-page Dallas Morning News obituary

Go deeper

Senate Democrats unveil new income tax for billionaires

Sen. Ron Wyden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a billionaires' tax proposal, designed to help support President Biden's social spending and climate change legislation.

Why it matters: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Billionaires Income Tax would raise "hundreds of billions of dollars" and would affect approximately 700 taxpayers who have more than $1 billion in assets or incomes of over $100 million a year.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

3 hours ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

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