WEST POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 26, 2011) -- T. Boone Pickens visited West Point Oct. 21 to speak with cadets about his energy policy and the Pickens Plan.

The Pickens Plan involves developing natural resources in the U.S. to build a bridge to the future by developing wind power and using natural gas in transportation to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The event was hosted by the Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Distinguished Leader Series.

This is the second time Pickens has spoken to cadets with his last visit that came in September 2008 when he was a guest speaker at a Hall of Fame dinner.

"Energy is increasingly becoming a major issue," Col. Thomas Kolditz, professor and department head in the BS&L Department, said. "Energy issues cuts across the corps."

Pickens has definite ideas on how to reduce the U.S. dependence on OPEC.

"We have plenty of resources," Pickens said. "All we have to do is get the leadership to make the difference."

Pickens said the first thing necessary to reduce our dependence on OPEC is to have an energy plan, something that Pickens said hasn't happened in 40 years.

"The world uses 90 million gallons of oil a day and the U.S. uses 21 percent," Pickens said. "That's 25 percent of the worlds' oil demand used by 4 percent of the population and the U.S. alone imports 65 percent of our oil. That is just not sustainable. We need a plan and if we don't have a plan, our plan will be OPEC."

Pickens said developing wind power is a viable alternative to provide electrical energy as is drilling for natural gas using the newly developed technology of horizontal drilling----or fracking.

"Fracking can drill 5,000 feet," Pickens said. "We can create a tremendous amount of gas with fracking, and it is safe. There have been many studies out that have shown it's a safe way to drill."

At the completion of his speech, Pickens took questions from the cadets. One cadet asked about what he thought of nuclear energy.

"I don't have any problems with nuclear energy," he said. "I know after the Japan nuclear disaster that there will be studies done and I know what it will say on the last page--there will be the recommendation of not building a nuclear reactor near the ocean or on a fault line."

Another cadet asked if more environmental regulations would come into play.

"Regulations are fine," Pickens said. "I think some issues, like fracking, should be up to the states to decide on how they want to develop energy resources. Regulations are the reason drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is slow. There were 159 request for permits and only 22 issued."

The shale deposits from Texas to Louisiana to Appalachia and the Great Lakes contain enough natural gas to sustain our energy needs for many decades to come, Pickens said.

"To me, it's a problem importing oil from our enemies, it's a security issue," Pickens said. "Money from the sale of oil can go to countries that are not friendly to the U.S. We must develop an energy plan."