My father once told me that a fool with a plan can beat a genius with no plan. "Son," he said, "your mother and I are concerned we're raising a fool with no plan."
That pretty much describes America and energy for the past 40 years. We've lumbered along without an energy plan, and grown increasingly dependent on Middle East oil - and increasingly vulnerable to the terrorism and dangerously high oil prices that come with it.
The good news: We've now seen both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney step forward with energy plans. I've carefully reviewed them both, and ultimately, Mitt Romney's policies are better. He has proposed a detailed plan that will create jobs, make the country safer, and jump-start our economic recovery.
A lot has happened in the last four years.
President Obama frequently claims credit for an energy revolution taking place thanks to technological advancements born in the private sector. I say it has happened in spite of him and his policies. In fact, his administration has systematically launched a regulatory war on oil, gas and coal. In the first three years of the Obama presidency, 42 percent fewer leases on public lands were approved than during the last three years of President George W. Bush's administration. Almost all of the increases in oil and gas production have occurred on state and private lands, where the President has had little ability to interfere. But given another term, all bets are off.
The stakes are simply too high to take that risk.
In contrast, the energy plan proposed by Gov. Romney will best position us to rebuild our economy on the strength of our abundant, affordable energy resources. He has put forward a far more rational set of proposals to jump start our economy, beginning with genuine support for the responsible development of our abundant energy resources. Most notable to me is his call for the creation of a North American Energy Partnership.
Two of our largest trading partners are Canada and Mexico, and the money we spend to buy their oil tends to cycle back and forth among our nations. I will never understand how President Obama determined that it was "not in the national interest" to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, which would have brought hundreds of millions of barrels of secure oil supplies to American refineries every year. North America is the fastest-growing oil and gas producing region in the world, providing us with an opportunity to achieve freedom from OPEC that could not have been imagined 10 years ago. North American energy independence is within our grasp and yet the president's policies have jeopardized our ability to achieve it.
We have more than 100 years' worth of clean-burning natural gas, and it provides low-cost energy to families and businesses across our nation. According to a recent study, developing America's shale gas and oil resources will generate millions of new jobs and trillions in government revenues.
Importantly, Mitt Romney's policies would benefit the development of both traditional and alternative energy sources, and encourage the use of a diverse range of fuels including natural gas in transportation. Fueling our big trucks and fleet vehicles with natural gas can dramatically reduce our dependence on OPEC oil. Those vehicles account for 30 percent of the oil we use in transportation.
America needs a leader who understands the incredible opportunity that our energy resources can provide us - to create good-paying jobs, generate desperately needed revenues to pay down our suffocating debt, and facilitate broad-based economic growth. The question is not whether we have the tools to succeed, but whether we will have a leader who knows how to use them. My vote goes to Mitt Romney, because I believe that he is just such a leader.
T. Boone Pickens is founder and chairman of BP Capital and architect of the Pickens Plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.