T. Boone Pickens, the legendary Texas oilman, corporate raider, shareholder-rights crusader, philanthropist and deep-pocketed moneyman for conservative politicians and causes, has a plan to solve the country’s $700 billion-a-year dependence on foreign oil.

Replace gasoline with natural gas. Replace natural gas-fired power plants with wind, solar, nuclear and clean coal. Basically, replace foreign oil with domestic fuel without straining those resources.

“We’ve gotten ourselves in a trap,” Pickens said last week in an interview in his Dallas office. “The problem is, we said, ‘Send us the oil, and never mind the cost.’ “

Pickens kicked off a media campaign today to promote his energy policy ideas — which align perfectly with his business investments. He’ll spend tens of millions of dollars on television and Web advertising and will make talk show appearances along the way.

The Pickens Plan? Wind. And natural gas.

The oil tycoon wants to install large wind turbines in parts of four Texas Panhandle counties in a project that would produce up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity. And yes, thats alot – one megawatt is enough to power 250 homes! It would also be the largest wind farm in the world.

Since natural gas is cheaper than gasoline and diesel and because natural gas can be easily used to power a wide range of vehicles, the Pickens Plan creates an energy platform that cuts more than one-third or more than $230 billion off the nation’s yearly payments to foreign countries.

Here’s a Brief Overview:

Step #1: Using the United States’ wind corridor, private industry will fund the installation of thousands of wind turbines in the wind belt, generating enough power to provide 20 percent or more of our electricity supply

Step #2: Again funded by the private sector, electric power transmission lines will be built, connecting these wind power generating sites with power plants providing energy to the population centers in the Midwest, South and Western regions of the country.

Step #3: With the energy from wind now available to operate power plants serving the large population centers in key areas of the country, the natural gas that was historically utilized to fuel these power plants can be redirected and used to replace imported gasoline and diesel as a fuel for thousands of vehicles in our transportation system.

American Enterprise! Compelling don’t you think?

T. Boone Pickens hopes to make energy a central issue in the presidential election. He’ll challenge the candidates to go beyond pandering on gasoline prices to create real energy plans.

“Neither presidential candidate is talking about solving the oil problem. So we’re going to make ‘em talk about it,” said Pickens.

“I feel like I’m going into a huge arena and tapping on the glass and asking people to listen,” said the 80-year-old multibillionaire.

He’s been promoting bits and pieces of his plan for decades. Pickens has been investing in vehicular natural gas and wind farms for years. But that’s not the reason for his campaign.

“I’m 80 years old. I’m worth $4 billion. I don’t need to make any more money,” he said.

Instead, he said, this is about patriotism and his reputation as a man who “sure puts his money where his mouth is.”

Obama and McCain? Please take notes.

The website, www.pickensplan.com, goes live today.

T. Boone Pickens Video
“T. Boone Pickens on Energy Issues”