Take it from this 80-year-old. After half a century in the energy business, I've learned a lot of lessons, and more than a few of them have been the hard way. One of the most important ones in all those years is that there is absolutely no reason for us to import two-thirds of the oil we use. Believe me: America has too much untapped energy for us to be spending $328,000 every single minute like we did last month when we imported 339 million of barrels of oil. That's $13 billion we sent overseas. Lucky for us February only has 28 days!
Ending our addiction to foreign oil was my goal when I launched the Pickens Plan on July 8. I spelled out a series of steps to decrease our reliance on imported oil and increase the use of domestic energy. Do you want to guess who got my plan right off the bat? The American people.
I know this because I met hundreds of folks one-on-one in town hall meetings from coast to coast. In big cities like Chicago and Salt Lake and in country crossroads such as Lamar, Colorado, Americans came out in force to offer their support for decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.
It didn't take long for members of both political parties to begin voicing their support for the Pickens Plan, too. Part of this had to do with the fact that ending our addiction to foreign oil is not good for just one party. It's good for all Americans. Another part had to do with the fact that I made it clear last year that I was going to stay on the sidelines during the presidential campaign. I met with both candidates. I presented my plan to each of them. And I made myself available as a resource to help in any way I could. Consequently, support for the Pickens Plan surged. To date, dozens of mayors, governors, senators, and congressmen have signed the Pickens Plan Pledge.
Now American businesses are starting to jump on board the Pickens Plan bandwagon. And that's going to be key. It started in December when Owens Corning signed on as the first corporate partner of the Pickens Plan. Think about it: better-insulated homes and offices will mean huge savings for American homeowners and businesses and decrease our reliance on imported oil. America's largest automotive retailer, AutoNation, is another big supporter of the Pickens Plan. Last month the company's CEO, Mike Jackson, hosted a Town Hall meeting in Fort Lauderdale. What do fuel-efficient cars require? Less energy. That's good news for car buyers and the environment. Watch out for Wal-Mart. The nation's largest retailer has teamed up with Peterbilt to test two CNG trucks and two LNG trucks to run between their distribution centers and their stores. And then there's American Electric Power, which is committed to developing the type of transmission grid so important to making the most of wind and solar power. Not only will the AEP's 21st-century transmission grid promote our energy security, but it will support the economic development our country needs right now. As I mentioned last week, AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson announced that his company was going to purchase 8,000 trucks that will run on natural gas. AT&T is also converting another 7,000 gasoline-powered vehicles to run on battery power and other fuel sources.
We're not out of the woods yet, but when the American people, their elected officials, and private enterprise set their sights on the same goal, you'd better watch out. Good things are going to happen. I guarantee it.
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