Rick Perry rolled out part of his long-awaited economic plan Friday, saying the nation could create more than a million jobs in the energy industry by opening up federal lands and waters to drilling, scrapping federal regulations and overhauling the Environmental Protection Agency.
Speaking at a steel plant in Pittsburgh, the three-term Texas governor said it is a myth that that environmental responsibility and domestic energy production are mutually exclusive.
“I do not accept the false choice that we must pick between energy and the environment,” he said. “It is time for a balanced, pro-American, pro-jobs energy policy.
The “Energizing American Jobs and Security” plan would wipe away a number federal regulations on business and industry, while stripping companies of government subsidies and tax credits. He also promised to preserve tax incentives for research and development.
“We believe the best way to invest in emerging technology is to allow private industry the freedom to develop it,” he said.
The speech came days after Mr. Perry was criticized for refusing to elaborate on his economic plan in a GOP presidential debate, which focused entirely on the nation’s stagnant economy. It also followed a series of polls suggesting that he had lost much of the momentum that he rode to the front of the pack after he entered the nomination race in August.
While the announcement centered on energy, the three-term governor promised that his complete economic growth package will include tax and entitlement reform, as well as spending cuts needed to tackle the federal government’s growing $14.8 trillion debt.
In his speech, Mr. Perry hammered the Obama administration, saying the president’s policies have stifled energy production, killed jobs and left the nation dependent on foreign oil sources from countries unfriendly to the United States.
“President Obama would keep us more dependent on hostile sources of foreign energy, while my plan would make us more secure by tapping America’s true energy potential,” he said. “Creating jobs in America is as simple as changing presidents. That is the choice facing Americans.”
The majority of his plan, he said, can be pursue through the executive branch, with congressional approval.
He pledged support for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada to Texas, and called for opening up federal lands to energy exploration in Alaska, the Atlantic Outer Continental shelf and in the western states, which he claimed “can produce more energy than what we import from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela and Russia combined!” He called for a return to 2007 permitting levels for oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, before the BP oil rig spill.
He also argued that it is time to tap into the natural gas in the giant Marcellus Shale that covers much of the northeastern part of the United States, stretching over parts of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Full development of the natural gas trapped there could help create 240,000 jobs, Mr. Perry said.
As for the EPA, he promised to strip the agencies ability to regulate greenhouse gases. He also pushed back against what he sees as the distaste by the administration and some members of his own party for coal production, noting that natural gas and coal fuel two-thirds of the electricity in this country.
“How can we have stable and affordable electricity when federal agencies target America’s top two fuel generation sources for electricity?” he said.
“I take a different view: I welcome the continued development of coal as an important part of job creation in America,” he said. “Allowing industry to invest in research and development is the best way to pursue clean coal technology.”