Alternative Energy Needs Stronger Push: Pickens

President Obama's overtures about ridding the US of dependence on foreign oil were encouraging but should have gone further, energy financier T. Boone Pickens told CNBC.

Boone T. Pickens
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Boone T. Pickens

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, the president delivered two messages about energy—the first being a threat to cut out "the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies," and the second a pledge to pursue alternative energy plans more aggressively.

Pickens was looking for a third tenet—one in which Obama announce concrete plans to move away from oil and on to other technologies, starting at the governmental level.

"What I wanted him to say was that all federal vehicles in the future will be on domestic resources. He can make that happen," Pickens said. "That would have really excited everybody, I think."

Obama set a goal of having 80 percent of the US electricity to come from clean-energy sources by 2035.

For Pickens, long-range goals are laudable, but he thinks the president ought to be more aggressive on the timeline for changes to take place.

In particular, he has been an advocate of natural gas, even as the Environmental Protection Agency released a report this week showing that the reputation of natural gas as a clean-burning fuel may have been overestimated.

"We're going to get it," he said. "If we pass up the opportunity...history will mark us as the dumbest crowd that ever came to town."