T. Boone Pickens promotes plan to wean U.S. from foreign oil

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens brought his energy plan to Biloxi on Tuesday. The oil tycoon was the keynote speaker at the closing session of the Southern Energy conference.

Though he made many millions in the oil industry, these days Pickens is promoting alternative energy sources like wind and natural gas.

The "Pickens Plan" was designed to wean the United States from foreign oil, and is getting lots of attention both in Washington and across America.

"Can you imagine? An 80-year-old guy shows up with a plan. Nobody's ever had a plan before. No plan for reducing dependency. I have a plan. The plan will work," Pickens told his luncheon audience at the Southern Growth Policies Board energy convention.

Pickens shared that plan with the nearly 400 people attending the conference in Biloxi.

The straight-talking Texan said foreign oil's stranglehold on America is getting tighter.

"That to me is the biggest question facing America today. The biggest fear I have is a security issue," he told the group.

The former oil man unveiled his energy ideas last summer  in a series of TV ads and internet videos. Since then, the Pickens Plan has gotten lots of attention.

"You've got to get on our resources is what you have to do. There's no other way out. Either quit using, or get on your own resources. The way it's going to work," said the billionaire.

Pickens promotes wind and natural gas as alternatives to oil.  He has sizeable personal investments in both.

"I am trying to do a wind project. And it will be done. And it will make money. Somebody said the other day, 'Well, don't you feel guilty about making money?'  Really? Feel guilty? I said, 'Do you know anybody who ever went into business to lose money?'" he said, as the crowd chuckled.

The geologist, known best for his savvy in the oil industry, sees great potential in natural gas.

"There are ten million vehicles in the world today on natural gas. Only 142,000 in the United States. The Iranians are switching everything over to natural gas. Why? The same reason we should: They have an abundance of natural gas," he said.

Pickens concluded by telling the group, "I think '09 we will see more legislation than we've ever seen in the history of America, on energy. And I think that most of it will be constructive for all of us."

Pickens has invested some $60 million of his own money raising awareness about the Pickens Plan. The billionaire said he's about to roll out another TV commercial promoting it.

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