Sep 11, 2019

Legendary oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens dies at 91

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

Fossil fuels bracing for crude game of musical chairs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Let’s hark back to the childhood game of musical chairs to talk about fossil fuels and climate change (yes really!).

My thought bubble: The world’s oil, natural gas and coal producers are, metaphorically speaking, encircling a bunch of chairs, and as the world tightens its grip on heat-trapping emissions, the use of these fuels drops — and so does the number of chairs.

Go deeperArrowSep 30, 2019

Stalled gas pipelines could push power grids back to oil and coal

Construction of a Spectra Energy pipeline in Peekskill, N.Y., in Aug. 2016. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hindering the expansion of natural gas pipelines could drive a reversion to dirtier energy sources like coal and heating oil, especially when sufficient infrastructure for renewable energy is not yet in place.

Why it matters: Greater demands on the power grid have led to more natural gas pipelines in the Northeastern U.S., but several proposed pipelines have been canceled or delayed due to public pushback. Inhibiting their construction could inadvertently produce greater emissions and lead to more air pollution.

Go deeperArrowSep 20, 2019

To wean off natural gas, cities push for all-electric new buildings

Natural gas meters outside residential townhomes. Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A growing number of cities are eliminating natural gas hookups in new homes and buildings as they work to reduce emissions and help meet climate targets.

The big picture: Fossil fuels burned in buildings contribute a tenth of overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While coal use continues to decline, natural gas use has held steady, making it a prime target in efforts to decarbonize.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019