T. Boone Pickens on Breaking Dependence on Foreign Oil

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," July 7, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: This country has not had a real energy plan in over 40 years — do you believe that? Well, one year ago, Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens shocked the world, calling for an end of America's dependence on foreign oil. He unveiled an energy plan to expand the use of domestic renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and replace oil with natural gas.

Mr. Boone Pickens supports the climate change bill that passed the House last month, but thinks we need to do more to get America off foreign oil.

He is here now — energy executive T. Boone Pickens. Boone, welcome here.


NAPOLITANO: Napolitano substituting for Beck today.

PICKENS: Oh, yes. We've worked together.

NAPOLITANO: We have and it's a pleasure, Boone. Why are we dragging our feet on energy? I mean, it's almost inconceivable that we've not had an energy plan for 40 years.

PICKENS: That is inconceivable. But I will have to say, we're moving faster than we've ever gone. This year, I think we're going to have legislation that will be the most encompassing legislation for energy in America that we've ever had.

NAPOLITANO: All right. You believe in the free market, right?


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NAPOLITANO: Do you support this cap-and-trade bill that passed the House of Representatives, which would have Washington planning all kinds of private activities and regulating the private use of energy?

PICKENS: Well, that bill has some good things in it, and I — what I do like in it is the treatment of wind, solar and the 21st century grid. I like all of that. I kind of look on the — on cap-and-trade, it isn't my issue.

NAPOLITANO: OK. How much natural gas are we sitting on in this country?

PICKENS: You won't even believe the number: 2,000 trillion...

NAPOLITANO: Two thousand trillion.

PICKENS: ...cubic feet of natural gas.


PICKENS: Let me give you what that does for us.


PICKENS: Two thousand trillion would put us No. 1 in the world in natural gas. We would go ahead of Russia, Iran and Qatar.

NAPOLITANO: Why is it that we haven't tapped into it? Why is it that 18 wheelers on the highway are still using gasoline instead of natural gas?

PICKENS: They — we haven't had the leadership in Washington for 40 years to have an energy plan. In their defense, oil has been cheap, which has made gasoline and diesel cheap.


PICKENS: That has been the thing that we have succumbed to. Somebody else is resourced when we have a better resource in America.

NAPOLITANO: Now, the last time you and I talked about this, you were telling me that I should put some sort of a windmill on my farm in New Jersey so that we could have wind power and you were the strong proponent of this out west in Oklahoma.

What has become of those proposals?

PICKENS: They — well, wind has slowed down because...

NAPOLITANO: You mean the velocity of the wind or the movement toward wind power?

PICKENS: We've got plenty of wind velocity.


NAPOLITANO: Some of it even around here!

PICKENS: Well, you can put — you can put wind in Washington and just open the doors and windows. It would take care of the turbines.

NAPOLITANO: There you go. But the idea of those turbines, did it pick up? Is it still on the front burner or no?

PICKENS: It is. Yes. But, what happens is that you're going to have to have some financing for it. And that is in that — in that particular bill that just passed the House. That was the climate bill.

But in there, you have the green bank, which is a good idea, and it should be done. But when you have natural gas as cheap as it is, that's good for transportation, but you price wind off natural gas.

NAPOLITANO: Why do we need the government to facilitate our use of natural gas? If we have — I think you said — this is a number that boggles my mind and probably the minds of most people watching us now, 2,000 trillion cubic either feet or yards.

PICKENS: Cubic feet.

NAPOLITANO: Cubic feet of natural gas. If we have this number so big that you can't even imagine how many zeros it has, under the earth, and if it's enough to power us for the next 100 years, why do we import natural gas, and why hasn't someone like you and people like you tapped into the earth and started selling it?

PICKENS: Well, one, when we import some of that, about 15 percent from Canada. That's good. That's OK. I don't — and we import about 2 million barrels a day of oil from Canada, too — which is good.

But we have plenty of natural gas to take care of everything we want to use. We can use it for transportation and we can use it for power generation, both and we should. It is cheap, cheap, cheap.

NAPOLITANO: What's preventing us from using it?

PICKENS: Well, we've had cheap oil in the past.

NAPOLITANO: All right.

PICKENS: And the system is set up to sell gasoline and diesel.

NAPOLITANO: How difficult would it be for 18-wheelers — I'm only picking on them because they belch the most...


NAPOLITANO: ...obnoxious junk into the air — into the air that we breathe. How big of a deal would it be to do something to their engines — I don't know if you replace them or add something to it — you know these technical things better than I — so that natural gas can go into those 18-wheelers instead of gasoline which is refined from oil?

PICKENS: Go ahead and go with the new trucks and as you retire a diesel truck, then go to natural gas. And that's in the 1835 bill which comes out tomorrow in the Senate, which has been introduced in the House two months ago.

So that — in that bill — they give $65,000 incentive if you will — when buying a new vehicle — you would go to the natural gas vehicle instead of a diesel.

NAPOLITANO: Wow. You think that will pass?

PICKENS: Yes, I do.

NAPOLITANO: That will revolutionize the way we operate our cars.

PICKENS: That will get us off of foreign oil because, the only resource we have in America is natural gas that will replace foreign oil.

NAPOLITANO: Boone Pickens, what a pleasure to work with you. Thanks.

PICKENS: Thanks.

NAPOLITANO: Thanks for joining us.

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