Energy Self-Reliance and Our Future

Last summer, when I launched my plan to get America to end its addiction to foreign oil, I began travelling cross country, sharing my thoughts and ideas about what a senseless waste it was for Americans to be spending billions of dollars each month buying oil from countries like Iran and Venezuela.

Padding the bank accounts of state-owned oil companies whose leaders badmouth the United States may not bother you, but it doesn't sit well with me. That's not the way we were brought up in Holdenville, Oklahoma. And while I'm at it, I'm going to share another lesson I learned in small town America, one that Nellie Molonson taught me during the Great Depression:

"Everybody has to learn to sit on their own bottom."

What my grandmother was trying to tell me is that self-reliance is a sign of maturity. It's a lesson she hammered into my head, and I think about it as I ponder the hole we've dug for ourselves.

America allowed itself to be lulled into a false sense of security by cheap oil, and now we're paying the price. If you don't believe me, then go to the Pickens Plan website and see for yourself. We make a point of singling out the hard truth. Take this fact:

With the money projected to be spent on foreign oil in 2009, we could build 32,407 new elementary schools.

Do you like the sounds of that? I don't. All those billions should stay right here. The time has come for America to become more self-reliant. Listen to this:

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility: a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

Sound familiar? That's President Obama, in his Inaugural Address, reminding each and every one of us that the challenges that lie before us - invigorating our economy, creating millions of new jobs, and investing in America - are not easy ones. But the rewards will be many.

I've spoken to senators, congressmen, college kids, governors, mayors, and thousands of folks just like the ones I grew up with in Holdenville, and I'm absolutely 100 percent confident that we can end our addiction foreign oil. The way to do it is by relying on American ingenuity.

Take the example of Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, who was interviewed for my Pickens Plan website earlier this week. How has his state responded to skyrocketing energy costs?

By looking closely at every possible domestic energy. Gov. Strickland is the kind of leader who sizes up our present predicament and smells opportunity. Ohio generates 95 percent of its electricity from coal, so what does he do? He gets behind clean coal technology. He gets in the hunt to have a nuclear power plant built in his state. He flies to Spain to meet with a company that wants to develop a wind farm on Lake Erie. And he signs into law a bill that requires a substantial increase in the number of megawatts that power plants have to produce using alternative energies. Why?

Because he knows he's creating opportunities for hundreds of new companies. Thousands of new jobs. Billions in much needed investment. Just listen to him describe what's taken place in Toledo. Over the last decade, the city has become an international center for solar power research.

Why can't we do that across this great land of ours?

You want my opinion on a stimulus plan? Follow Ohio's example and invest in American energy. All of it.