Mike Isaac is a staff writer at Wired. Based out of San Francisco, he traveled to Long Beach this week to cover the TED 2012 Conference. One of the individuals he profiled was Pickens Plan founder T. Boone Pickens. Excerpts from their conversation follow; a link to the entire interview runs at the end of the post.

WIRED: What do you see as the current path we’re on in terms of global energy consumption?

TBP: Well, the path is that we have had a huge change in America on energy. We now have the cheapest energy in the world. Natural gas here cost $2.40. Beijing, it’s $16. Mid-East, $15. Europe, $13. Oil, we’re at $100 a barrel where the world market price is $115. So we’ve got cheap energy. Consequently, if we had good leadership in Washington, we could rebuild our economy on the back of cheap energy. So it’s an exciting time for this country.

WIRED: What’s the status of the Pickens Plan right now?

TBP: The Natural Gas act has got 180 cosponsors and it’s ready to be voted on. And they don’t vote on it.

WIRED: What’s holding that up?

TBP: Oh, you know. Washington is Washington. But it’ll happen. Trucks are switching over right now to natural gas, because it’s a dollar and fifty cents per gallon cheaper. Look, in 1972 when diesel was so cheap, they started switching away from gasoline to diesel. Same circumstances you have now. And it took five years to do it. So now, you’ve got eight million eighteen-wheelers switching over to natural gas over the next five to seven years. When that happens, that’s equivalent to three million barrels of oil per day. That’s a lot. Right now, we import five million barrels of oil per day from OPEC. So theoretically, you could knock out 60 percent of your OPEC imports with eighteen-wheelers alone.

WIRED: What’s the end game of continuing our reliance on foreign oil?

TBP: Well, you’re paying for both sides of the war by buying OPEC oil. Money gets in the hands of the Taliban. That’s stupid. And our decision to keep our people in the Middle East is foolish. It’s unfair to the people you’re sending over there — it’s totally unnecessary.

Read the entire WIRED interview HERE.