When I first saw a television ad a few weeks ago featuring T. Boone Pickens, the Texas billionaire, I wondered what he was up to. My interest intensified when I realized that what he was saying really made good sense. The fact that the U.S. is importing over 70% of its oil, with the numbers climbing every minute, should get everybody’s attention. When you consider that we were only importing 24% of our oil in 1970, and now that percentage has just about tripled, it’s evident the federal government hasn’t done its job. The current situation is a most serious matter. The television ads which began last month were run nationally. By now they should have gotten the attention of our political leaders in Washington.
Mr. Pickens is touting wind, solar and natural gas and that makes sense. I know a little about wind as a source of energy because of my friend Cecil Spear’s company, Trinity Industries, which is a leader in that area. The wealthy oilman has a message for Americans and for the two presidential candidates and his message hits the nail squarely on the head: “Our dependence on imported oil is destroying the country.” I totally agree with that assessment. No American president has done anything of significance to change things in over 40 years and time is running out. Mr. Pickens is dead serious about his mission. He’s spending $58 million and lots of his personal time in an attempt to get the word out about what our country’s leaders need to do. He says in the first TV commercial: “I’ve been an oilman my entire life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” (Emphasis added)
The 60-second spot debuted on July 8th along with a deluge of paid and unpaid national and local media. The goal set out by Mr. Pickens is to make U.S. dependency on imported oil “the No. 1 political issue in America.” It’s quite obvious that the politically powerful oil industry has had a strong hand in setting our nation’s energy policy for years, regardless of which political party was in power. The time has come to change that situation and put our nation’s national interest on the drawing board for a change instead of the oil companies’ bottom line.
Pickens’ first commercial was designed to alert America to the threat we’re facing. It was followed by three more commercials outlining his solution, which he believes could reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil in 10 years. Elements include investing in U.S. renewable energy sources, starting with wind and natural gas. What makes this unusual is that Pickens built his fortune on oil – and that makes his stand even more compelling. There can be no doubt that this man is dead serious about saving America from an almost total dependence on oil – both foreign and domestic – and it’s a national problem that we can no longer ignore.
Radio spots and print ads featuring Pickens also began on July 8th, as did an extensive public relations effort that plugged him on ABC’s Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News, CNN and Fox News. Pickens also met with the editorial boards of the Chicago Tribune and Newsweek. An insightful Op-Ed by Pickens was published in The Wall Street Journal. Pickens testified before a congressional committee on July 21st and “put the hay down where the goats could get it.” He warned that unless action is taken, oil could cost $300 a barrel in ten years. The campaign also has an in-depth social networking Web site that allows users to join, post a profile with photos, invite friends and share “ideas and tactics on how to make energy the most important issue in this election.” When you consider that we are now spending $700 billion each year to buy foreign oil, it’s past time for our political leaders to wake up. Hopefully the American people will get involved and make sure the politicians are listening!
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