America is dependent on OPEC oil.

It’s an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our lives and ties our hands as a nation and as a people.

The addiction that became painfully clear with the OPEC Oil Embargo in 1974, has grown to a point of crisis.

In 1970, we imported less than 25% of our oil. In 2013 it was about 50%.

Depending on OPEC and other foreign sources for half of our oil puts America in a precarious position.

In addition to putting our security in the hands of potentially unfriendly and unstable OPEC nations, we are jeopardizing our economy. In 2013, we imported 1.35 billion barrels of oil from OPEC at a cost of $147 billion.

That’s money we took out of our economy that could – and should – be used to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Instead we sent it to OPEC nations.

Over the next 10 years, this addiction will be $2 trillion. How much is $2 trillion? Let’s put it in simple terms. In the history of mankind, no country has ever sent this much wealth out of its borders.

Consider this: Every day 90 million barrels of oil are pumped out of the ground around the world. And 19 million of those are used here in the United States.

That’s 21% of the world’s oil demand. Used by just 4% of the world’s population.

America imports 10 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia only produces 9.5 million a day.

Over the past few years, the increase in production of oil and natural gas from North American shale deposits can put America back in the driver’s seat in terms of being able to reduce our dependence on OPEC.

If we’re smart.

America is focused on another crisis: The economy.

Americans have weathered the worst effect of the Great Recession. But, addressing the economy is still the top priority of our nation.

To make a real and lasting impact we must seek to do more than talk about new jobs and opportunities; we have to build the platform on which our economy can grow for decades to come.

In the late 18th and early 19th century it was the availability of natural resources – oil, coal and iron as examples – that pushed America past nearly all the other industrialized nations on earth.

Still today, there is nothing more important to our economy than energy. Any effort to address our economic problems requires a comprehensive understanding of this issue, and a willingness to confront our dependence on OPEC oil by using our domestic resources more effectively.

It is an issue too large to be addressed piecemeal. We still need a plan of action on scale with the problems we face. That is the spirit in which the Pickens Plan was conceived. The Pickens Plan is a collection of coordinated steps that together form a comprehensive approach to America’s energy needs.

The Pickens Plan.

There are several pillars to the Pickens Plan:

  • Use America’s abundant natural gas to replace imported oil as a principal transportation fuel for fleets and heavy-duty trucks;
  • Build a 21st century backbone electrical transmission grid;
  • Develop renewable energy sources, including as wind and solar power; and,
  • Increase energy efficiency in home and commercial buildings with technology improvements and upgrading insulation.

America’s dependence OPEC oil is a critical concern, but it cannot be solved in isolation. Americans must begin to see how energy works as a whole – and that begins by considering what energy resources and alternatives we have, and taking a long-term view of how how we will fuel our world in the next 10 to 20 years and beyond.

Natural gas is a domestic fuel that can free us from OPEC oil.

Nearly 15% of the oil we use in America goes into fueling18-wheelers with diesel. Big over-the-road trucks are too heavy to power using current battery technology. Fleet vehicles like buses, taxis, express delivery trucks, and municipal and utility vehicles (vehicle that return to the “barn” each night where refueling is a simple matter) should be running on clean, cheap, domestic natural gas rather than expensive, imported gasoline or diesel fuel.

Currently, domestic natural gas is primarily used to generate electricity. It has the advantage of being cheap and significantly cleaner than coal, but this is not the only use of our natural gas resources.

By aggressively increasing the use of natural gas in transportation by shifting America’s heavy truck fleets from imported gasoline and diesel to domestic natural gas would significantly and immediately lower our dependence on OPEC oil, and move the United States closer to the goal of importing zero oil from the Middle East within ten years.

But the Pickens Plan isn’t just about natural gas.

Natural gas is not a permanent solution, it is a critical bridge fuel to immediately slash our oil dependence, buying us time to develop new technologies that will ultimately replace fossil fuels in transportation. Natural gas is the critical puzzle piece RIGHT NOW. It will help add hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy every year instead of spending that money overseas on imported oil That’ll strengthen our economy, and help pay for our investments in a smart grid, wind and solar energy, and increased energy efficiency.

By investing in alternative energies while utilizing natural gas for transportation and energy generation, America can decrease its dependence on OPEC oil, develop the cutting-edge know-how to make wind and solar technology viable, and keep more money at home to pay for the whole thing. It is this connection that makes The Pickens Plan not just a collection of good ideas, but a true, comprehensive, plan.

How do we get it done?

The Pickens Plan is a bridge to the future – a blueprint to reduce our dependence on OPEC oil.

By conserving energy, continuing to move to renewables, while increasing the use of our natural gas resources, we can slash our OPEC oil imports in 10 years. But it will take leadership.

Together with President Obama and the Congress, we can take down the old barriers and provide energy security for generations to come. As the President has said, “Yes, we can.”

More than 3 million Americans have joined the Pickens Plan Army. Will you?