Oilman Pickens says he's open to Va. investment - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Oilman Pickens says he's open to Va. investment

By STEVE SZKOTAK, The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens said Wednesday he'd consider investing in Virginia and helping its governor's vision of making the state an energy player.

With Gov. Bob McDonnell at his side, Pickens spoke before his keynote address at a three-day energy conference that concludes Thursday. The conference has been a showcase for McDonnell's goal to make his state the East Coast energy capital.

With a touch of humor, Pickens said he'd consider spending some of his considerable wealth in Virginia.

"We'll I got to see the deal," Pickens said. "An 82-year-old guy will look at any deal. One of the ways I got to where I am is that I have an open mind, and sure, I'd look at an investment in Virginia.

"I'm not going to move my office here," he added.

The Texas billionaire embraced the Republican's "all-of-the-above" approach to energy independence. He has been promoting his own plan of expanding alternative energy and natural gas exploration.

Pickens played down growing fears about a particular method of extracting natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals to break up rock to release gas deposits.

Some are fearful that fluids or wastewater from fracking could contaminate drinking water.

Pickens said the practice has been used in Texas and Oklahoma for decades with no adverse environmental consequences.

"What you're hearing up here about damage to aquifers, I don't believe it," he said.

McDonnell has said natural gas exploration is part of his plan to create jobs and capital investment in Virginia. He also has embraced offshore oil and gas, nuclear, solar and wind power.

Pickens hammered at a familiar theme: America must end its dependence on Mideast oil.

"We are buying oil from people that are not friendly to us," he said. "And we're going to pay a horrible price for that at some point. Any energy source in America is fine with me. I don't care what it is."

He also had some fun with McDonnell's energy capital quest.

Asked if McDonnell could achieve his goal, Pickens said, "Well, one, he's the only one who said he wanted that. If nobody challenges you, sure, I think it's achievable."

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