This article by Raymond Starks originally appeared in InsideSources on April 9, 2015.
At an event Thursday at The World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, likely presidential contenders gathered to express their concerns with Environmental Protection Agency regulations they said were holding back America’s economy. Hosted by InsideSources and sponsored by America’s Power, the event introduced policy-minded voters to former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, all Republicans. Likely presidential candidates from both parties were invited to the event.
Congressman David Young (R-IA) welcomed the three likely presidential candidates and called for an “all of the above approach” to energy policy. He took note of Iowa’s growth in wind and biofuel power, but he pointed out a majority of Iowa’s power still comes from coal, a top target of costly environmental regulations.
Each of the candidates—Perry, Jindal, and Santorum—hails from a top five energy producing state, and all eschewed similar views concerned with overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency on businesses and consumers.
Remarks from each candidate focused attention on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that seeks to reduce CO2 emissions through heat rate improvements on coal plants, increased utilization of natural gas, an increase in renewables and nuclear energy, and increases in end-use efficiency. The EPA’s preferred implementation of the plan proposes a 30% reduction in CO2power plant emissions by 2030. As the United States produces 40% of its electricity from coal, the plan would have a significant impact on the American economy. It’s expected that 43 states would see double digit electricity rate increases, and costs for power plants and consumers would rise substantially.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry frequently touted his energy policy stances during his 2012 bid for the Republican nomination, and he continues to do so as he looks ahead to the 2016 race. In 2012, the now-former governor focused prominently on the idea of energy independence, believing the United States should produce and consume its own energy rather than relying on foreign countries. Perry believes that energy policy is directly related to national security saying, “We need to talk plainly about the stakes… Energy is a weapon in the hands of an aggressor. America needs to have the largest arsenal.” Not only focusing on his accomplishments as Governor of Texas, Perry praised the progress made by both Pennsylvania and Louisiana. During his tenure as Governor of Texas, Perry expanded the state’s energy production from fossil fuels and renewable energy. The state now produces 29% of all United States natural gas and also leads the nation in the production of oil with a refinery capacity of 5.1 million barrels per day. The Lone Star State produces 34% of its energy from coal, and under the proposed EPA regulations, the state would face an average increase in energy prices of 10%.
The longest serving governor in the state’s history, Perry’s tenure was also marked by a long period of job growth where the state created one third of the nation’s jobs, many coming from the energy industry. The former Texas Governor criticized the president for his energy policy while also focusing on the accomplishments of entrepreneurship and the economy of Texas, saying, “Today America leads the world in natural gas production… the energy rush has once again come to America and my home state is the epicenter of that.” Also during Perry’s tenure as Texas Governor, the state expanded its wind production, producing the largest amount of wind energy in the nation.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has also made energy a focus of his prospective 2016 Presidential campaign, previously writing for InsideSources on delivering affordable energy to American families and businesses. Jindal criticized the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would raise electricity prices an average of 16% over the period of 2020-2029. The EPA regulation, which he believes should be repealed, has a significant impact on the state that produces 21% of its electricity from coal. The state of Louisiana is the second largest refiner of crude oil only behind the neighboring state of Texas.
In his second term as Louisiana Governor, Jindal has been a forceful critic of President Obama, especially on energy issues. The Louisiana Governor focused much of his speech on highlighting what he views as federal overreach from the Obama administration saying “We are in the middle of an energy revolution that will restore our economy… Just the energy revolution alone can increase the median income by 7%.” Jindal has consistently criticized the President for his refusal to sign a bill allowing for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that was vetoed earlier this year. Jindal noted the significant energy reserves and technology advantages the United States has that he would seek to expand. “We have been blessed with an abundance of energy, not just recourses but technology here at home.” Jindal, like Perry, touted energy independence as a foreign policy objective.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the 2012 winner of the Iowa Republican Caucuses, appears on track to make energy a focus of a likely 2016 campaign just as he did in 2012. Santorum advocated his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard that is important to Iowa’s economy. Touting his heritage as the grandson of a coal miner, Santorum has frequently noted the importance of coal to his home state, as well as to Iowa and American energy production as a whole. After leaving the United States Senate, Santorum served as a consultant to an energy company. The former Senator told Iowans there is a “war on coal” in the United States waged by the EPA. Santorum focused his remarks on the price of energy and its effects on the working and middle class. “If you’re an average American…you spend 40% of your disposable income on energy… Let’s give small town America a chance.” His home state is the nation’s fourth largest coal producer that provides for 40% of all energy produced in the state, although it has become a large user and producer of natural gas. Nuclear power is also of unique importance as the resource provides 35% of the state’s power.
Energy will be a 2016 issue that will allow candidates like Santorum, Jindal and Perry to display their breadth of knowledge and experience. The state of Iowa, home of the first-in-the-nation caucus, would be required by EPA policy to cut its emissions by 16% relative to the 2012 rate. The state would also see an increase in the average energy price by 15%. The Hawkeye State relies upon coal for 59% of its electricity; however, it is one of the foremost wind energy producing states with 25% of all electricity being produced by wind turbines. Through an appeal to the pocketbooks of Iowans, these three candidates look to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.