Energy Entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens revisited CNBC on Monday, reiterating his call for natural gas as widespread transportation fuel. Pickens told CNBC that energy independence would come much faster if the country’s over-the-road truck fleet were converted to natural gas from diesel.

“We’re down to 4 million barrels a day of OPEC oil [from 7 million] … and we can knock that out within the next three years,” Pickens said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “All you have to do is switch natural gas over to the heavy-duty trucks.”

Pickens revealed his original plan on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” back in 2008, calling for the U.S. to tap into its growing domestic natural gas supplies—i.e., the shale gas boom—as transportation fuel. Pickens told CNBC on Monday, “If [Washington] had gone with me six years ago, you figure you could probably had the job done in three to four years. If that were the case, you would have cut out 75% of OPEC, because 8 million trucks converted to natural gas off of diesel is three million barrels a day.”

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration numbers, total U.S. crude imports hit a high of approximately 10.1 MMBOPD in 2006. Crude imports dropped below 10 MMBOPD after 2007. In 2013 crude imports were 7.7 MMBOPD – 24% lower than in 2006.

EnerCom Consulting reported in its Industry Data and Trends for June 2014 that U.S. crude oil imports as a percent of total consumption have decreased to 56.8% in 2013, from 72.9% in 2006. During the period, U.S. domestic crude oil production grew from approximately 5 MMBOPD in 2006 to approximately 7 MMBOPD in 2013.

Oil & Gas 360 recently reported on the growth in popularity of natural gas-fueled over-the-road tractors with certain carriers. Jim Moeller, president of CSM Companies, parent company of Wisconsin Kenworth, echoed Pickens’ opinion at a 2011 NatGas Summit hosted by Kenworth. “It’s becoming increasingly clear to us and to our customers that the key to the future of our country’s energy independence will rely on more domestically produced natural gas well into the first half of the 21st Century,” said Moeller.

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