Up Wind

Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, 80, made a fortune for himself with risky investments and corporate raids. But the outspoken Republican's latest scheme, the Pickens Plan—a trillion-dollar blueprint for reducing oil depen­dency by increasing wind energy and switching to natural gas for transportation fuel—may be his biggest gamble yet.

Stayton Bonner

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OUTSIDE: Why the Pickens Plan?

PICKENS: Ten years from now we’ll be importing 75 percent of our oil. Foreign-oil depen­dency is draining the economy and weakening our security.

Which is why you’re advocating wind.

We have more wind than any other country. Use that for power generation and natural gas for transportation fuel—it’s a quarter of the cost of oil. It’s cleaner, cheaper, and abundant in our country.

Why aren’t we already using renewables?

All we’ve ever done is say, “Send us the oil.” We haven’t had the leadership that says, “Hey, we’re not going to do this anymore.”

So what will you do about the leadership?

We’re going to push Congress very hard to accept the Pickens Plan. There’s no other strategy out there. If you’re not for my plan, then you’re for foreign oil. Politicians won’t like that kind of attack.

Why not just retire?

When it’s your time to lead, you step up and do it. This doesn’t have anything to do with money—I’ve got enough money. I’d rather play golf than do this.