This post originally appeared Jan. 30 at 9:30 a.m. ET on Real Money.
NEW YORK (
) -- Dear Warren:
I have seen you on
so many times that I feel like we know each other well enough for me to suggest a plan to you concerning our country's massive oversupply of natural gas, and what you, as owner of
railroad, can do to change things in our country.
First, buy up as many natural gas royalty trusts, and perhaps natural gas drillers and operating companies.
Second, call President Obama and tell him to pass a law to mandate that all diesel locomotives must be switched to a natural gas-based fuel within three years. Trains are the easiest surface transportation items to convert because the weight of the fuel tanks is not a problem. Moreover, the railroad business is one of the largest users of diesel fuel, a really bad fuel that causes a lot of pollution. Our air would be so much better without diesel ... and our balance of payments would like it very much, too.
Third, even if President Obama does not mandate a conversion, you can convert to nat gas, sending the price of natural gas up -- and you would make money on that anyway. Win-win.
Naturally, with natural gasses at a rock-bottom, generational low, the electric utilities that are using coal in old plants should be doing the same thing: replacing coal with natural gas that they own.
Similarly, trucking companies should be buying up natural gas or locking in long-term supplies because natural gas will become the trucking fuel of the future if the railroads covert to locomotives fueled by natural gas.
If the transportation industry switches all of our eighteen-wheelers and locomotives to natural gas, our balance of payments will really be happy.
Oh, please also ask President Obama to mandate an end to the heating of any structure in this country with polluting heating oil.
Think of all the jobs that will be created, and think about how many more jobs will be created in our energy industry, if we stop shutting-in natural, as we are now beginning to do.
And consider the implications for world peace and prosperity that your friend Bill Gates loves so much. If we use our natural gas, we will lower the overall energy costs for the whole world. The air in our country will be much cleaner, and maybe even Europe will show some growth. China, Brazil and India will have lower inflation and will be able to lower interest rates to grow their economies.
In addition to the benefits of cleaner air, more jobs and a much lower trade deficit, our country will become much more secure if our railroads and big trucks were insulated from oil embargos, supply blockages caused by civil wars or the closure of key canals and or navigable waterways. We could probably also begin to change our foreign and military policies because our enemies would have a lot less oil money to spend on acts of aggression against us.
T. Boone Pickens has been trying so hard to get Congress to listen, but you know how dysfunctional and horrible that governing body is. If you were to say, "Burlington is going natural gas," it would move this thing off the dime it has been on for three years now. This could be your finest hour, Warren, because everyone listens to you and believes in you -- you have proved over the years that you know what you're doing.
P.S. I am sorry I missed having lunch with you, but I had to drop out of the bidding last time because the price got too high. But if you ever get down to South Florida, I would love to take you to Joe's Stone Crab for a bite.
Matt Horween is a certified public accountant and served as a commissioned U.S. foreign service officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development from March 1981 to March 1998. He served in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Egypt, Honduras and Barbados, spending about 15 years overseas. He ended his career stationed in Washington, D.C. as the financial controller for the bureau that controlled the foreign aid program for Europe, including all of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and its former satellite countries. Horween also worked as an auditor for Price Waterhouse & Company in New York City and held various financial management positions for several publically listed corporations. Early in his career, he served as a radio intercept analyst for the U.S. Air Force Security Service and was stationed in Greece.