July 24, 2006

Oil billionaire Pickens Campaigns for Horses

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Making a killing in the oil business is a proper American pastime but slaughtering horses and eating them is not, legendary Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens said on Monday.

The 78-year-old oil trading legend will testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday on what he calls America's "dirty little secret" -- that slaughterhouses in Texas and Illinois kill about 100,000 horses a year and the meat ends up on dinner tables in Europe and Japan.

"It's not any different as far as I'm concerned than if you killed dogs and sent them to France and Japan," Pickens told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"It's just plain un-American."

Pickens said he supports legislation backed by Rep. John Sweeney, a New York Republican, that would bar horse meat production at three U.S. plants.

Pickens, who racked up a reported $1.5 billion in profits last year by placing bullish bets on crude oil prices, describes himself as an animal lover.

But he said he would not peg himself as a cowboy, even though he's from Texas. "I'm not a roper myself," he said.