T. Boone Pickens has no intention of letting President Barack Obama out of his campaign pledge to eliminate oil imports from the Middle East.
The billionaire oilman posted a whiteboard presentation on his website Thursday, updating the eponymous plan he has touted at his own expense for more than two years. It is the first in a series of planned video presentations.
Pickens maintains it is vital for the United States to stop importing oil from unfriendly nations.
"There are eight years left on the president's campaign pledge to eliminate Middle East oil in 10 years, and we want to help him and our nation get there," he said. "The Pickens Plan is the only real plan that can make dramatic progress on that goal using our abundance of natural gas as a transportation fuel.
"We encourage Congress and all Americans to get behind this plan now. There is no more time to waste. We have an opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it."
Pickens said Americans use 21 million barrels of oil a day — about a quarter of what is being produced worldwide — with 13 million barrels a day coming from foreign sources. Five million barrels a day comes from the Middle East, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"That's my target. I want to get rid of this, because I think we're importing oil from the enemy," he said, circling that figure. "We're paying for both sides of the war when we're buying OPEC oil.
"This is not smart."
CNG for trucks
The main pillar of Pickens' plan remains increased use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel. He said it is abundant and cheaper and cleaner than diesel.
Pickens is targeting 8 million 18-wheel trucks in the U.S. He said converting those trucks to run on compressed natural gas can cut America's OPEC oil habit in half.
The rest can be addressed by increased use of CNG by drivers of the other 240-plus million vehicles in the United States, he said.
"I somehow see this as a great opportunity to pull America together," Pickens said. "You are going to create a tremendous number of jobs out of this."
Pickens' latest presentation drew plaudits from America's Natural Gas Association.
"He makes some great points about the abundant supplies of natural gas in the United States and the benefits that presents to our country," spokesman Dan Whitten said. "In addition, we think increased natural gas use for power generation provides an incredible opportunity for the environment, for energy security and for the economy."
Oklahoma City University professor Steve Agee, who oversaw a study into the benefits of switching to natural gas, said the United States is lagging behind other countries in using it as an alternative fuel.
"Many other countries are ahead of the United States with respect to the use and development of natural gas powered automobiles," he said. "Pakistan, for example, has an estimated 2 million natural gas vehicles; and Argentina and Brazil are close behind.
"In comparison, the U.S. had 110,000 as of 2009."
Agee said natural gas is an excellent source of energy, but the United States needs more fueling stations and affordable ways to convert vehicles to run on CNG before it takes hold as a transportation fuel.
Ideas gaining acceptance in D.C.
Some facets of Boone Pickens' plan to cut oil imports are among several pieces of legislation, including:
• The American Power Act (S 1733) introduced by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, indpendent-Conn.;
• The Next Generation Energy Security Act (S 3535) introduced by Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Pickens spokesman Jay Rosser said some facets of the plan are expected to be included in a new energy plan being discussed in the U.S. Senate.
He said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday stated the bill will incorporate Pickens' call for tax incentives to fuel America's heavy duty fleet vehicles on domestic natural gas.
Boone Pickens is confident a national energy plan is on the horizon:
"America is as close to an energy plan as it's been in 40 years," Pickens said. "We can't let any more time go by as we continue to spend $27.3 billion per month on foreign oil.
"We have to act now or risk watching oil rise to $300-$400 a barrel in the next ten years, with import numbers jumping to 75 percent.
"So instead of spending $365 billion a year on foreign oil, we would be wasting $1 trillion a year. That just won't work.
"Congress needs to move fast to enact legislation promoting the greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. The future of our economy and national security depend on it."