Known for his “Pickens Plan” that pushes wind and natural gas investment, billionaire businessman T. Boone Pickens used an Indiana University appearance Friday to sign up college students to support legislation currently in the works that will benefit industries he’s invested hundreds of millions of dollars in.
Pickens says the United States needs to dramatically scale back the amount of Middle Eastern oil it imports. To do this, he says the country needs to translate his business plan into public policy.
He says Congress is open to his ideas because he has an army of 1.6 million – his term for the pool of personal information he’s collected over the past year.
“I pretty much know how this will come out at the end of the day. And that is, I will recruit a lot of people today for my army. What are they signing up for? They’re in an army. We’re going to get legislation in this country that is going to fix the energy problem we are faced with. We are very very close to getting that accomplished,” he said.
During the speech, Pickens made a direct appeal to students.
“I tell you, they look at that million six hundred thousand people. And I want you to go in the website and sign up with me. Sign up with me. It’s no cost. You’re not sticking your neck out. And you will see that we have to do together to accomplish what we’re talking about,” Pickens said.
While exiting the speech, thousands of students were handed bumper stickers and pre-paid post cards in order for Pickens’s group to send them advocacy materials.
The legislation Pickens supports will benefit the very industries he has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in over the past decade. During his Bloomington visit, Pickens was asked about the apparent conflict of interest.
“My response to that is very easy. What’s your plan? I mean, if you have a better plan, I’ll join with you. Because I’m sincere about the security issue. I could not come up on in a more realistic direction except through the industry,” he said.
Already a billionaire, Pickens says his public relations campaign isn’t about making himself richer but about helping the country. Pickens adds that states with an abundance of coal, such as Indiana, should continue to cultivate the resource despite how much it pollutes because it is cheap and American.