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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 5th, 2013
07:39 PM ET

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens picks a fight with Washington over energy

The Obama administration is expected to issue its decision on whether to allow an extension to carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast sometime in the next few months. It's become a political controversy, just this week President Obama was greeted outside a California fundraiser by protesters pushing the president to reject the pipeline extension.

Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens knows what it's like to pick an energy fight in Washington, pitching what he calls 'The Pickens Plan.' Though he does not have much of a recent winning record.

"I've brought the Pickens plan up here, a simple plan, get on your own resources, get off OPEC oil. That's not hard to understand," said Pickens.

Pickens supports the Keystone Pipeline extension, but the Exxon pipeline leak in Arkansas is perhaps an example of why the country should not have a pipeline like Keystone.

"Just let the oil go to China. Don't let it come to the United States. No, it would be the dumbest thing we've ever done," said the oil tycoon. "But the leak in Arkansas, I mean you're looking at an industry that has 175,000 miles of pipelines in the United States. We move around ... 30 million barrels of oil a day."

"And they, over a 10-year period, have spilled about 100,000 barrels of that oil," said Pickens.

Another part of Pickens' plan is to move toward domestic energy production, including natural gas. But fracking - extracting natural gas by injecting chemicals into the ground - is very controversial. Experts and analysts disagree on how safe it is.

"There have been over 800,000 wells that have been fracked. I saw my first frack job in 1952," said Pickens. "This is tried, proven."

"In 3,000 wells, I never had a failure on it. I didn't get as much out of the hole as I wanted, but we didn't mess up anything with the frack job," added Pickens.

In 2004, Pickens donated a lot of money to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads, a controversial ad campaign that questioned then-presidential candidate John Kerry's military service. Kerry is now secretary of state and in a position where he could team up and partner with Pickens. Energy independence in the United States is a big international issue. Pickens maintains the ads have not harmed his relationship with Kerry.

"I have worked with John Kerry on energy in the last two years. [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid called me and said that 'John Kerry is going to have an energy plan and we could put your plan in with his plan, would you consider that?'" said Pickens.

So can the tycoon work with Kerry, the man whose presidential ambitions he vehemently opposed?

"Well of course I can. Yes, if it's about America, hey, we're not in some campaign," said Pickens. "That's history."

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