Eighty-year-old Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens is scheduled to visit LeMars this afternoon to promote his ideas on wind energy. "If you do the wind corridor, that would revitalize rural America," Pickens says.

Pickens is calling for government investment in transmission lines to carry the electricity generated by wind turbines from the Midwest to the east and west coasts. Pickens has purchased ad time on television and radio to push for this and other changes in U.S. energy policy. "You’re going to have to replace foreign oil with domestic natural gas," Pickens says. "It’s cleaner, it’s cheaper and it’s ours."

Pickens, who is America’s number one owner of natural gas fueling stations, would like to see federal mandates, such as new requirements that government-owned vehicles run on natural gas rather than gasoline and diesel fuel. "All the new vehicles for the government would be on natural gas," Pickens says. "That would send a message to the car manufacturers that the government was behind this and then I would like to see the government mandate that the trucks — 18-wheelers and all — would be on natural gas."

Pickens is scheduled to speak in LeMars at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, part of a nationwide campaign to build a network of supporters who will pester congress on the issue. "We’ve gotten over four million come in on ThePickensPlan.com website and we’ve had 250,000 of them sign up for what we call our army," Pickens says. "I’ll have a million people signed within two months."

Pickens, who says America can’t drill its way out of its energy woes, was last on the national political stage in 2004 as the major financier of the "Swift Boat" attacks on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. He’s currently building what will be the world’s largest wind turbine farm in Texas.