The Wall Street Journal

  • OCTOBER 15, 2011


    Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry announced his energy and jobs plan at a U.S. steel plant in Pittsburgh. He pledged to create more than 1 million jobs by expanding energy production and lifting federal regulations on the energy sector.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought to reinvigorate his presidential bid Friday by outlining a plan to boost domestic energy production, a proposal he predicts would create more than a million jobs.

    In his first major policy address since joining the race in August, Mr. Perry called for circumventing Congress to roll back environmental regulations, expand domestic oil and gas production and end a broad swath of incentive programs for energy production.


    Associated PressTexas Gov. Rick Perry, right, tours the U.S. Steel Irvin Works in West Mifflin, Pa., before his speech Friday.

    The Texas governor, speaking to workers clad in hard hats on the floor of a Pittsburgh-area steel mill, unveiled the proposal as he sought to rebound from missteps and debate performances that resulted in eroding poll numbers and the loss of his front-runner status. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed Mr. Perry’s support has slipped 22 percentage points since the end of August, from 38% to 16% at the beginning of October.

    The governor’s wife, Anita, told a South Carolina audience this week it has been a “rough month,” as Mr. Perry has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats and has been eclipsed in the polls and media coverage by former business executive Herman Cain.

    The energy proposal marks the first installment of a broader economic package Mr. Perry will roll out in the weeks ahead. Later installments will address tax reform and deficit reduction, he said Friday.

    Mr. Perry’s energy plan resembles those offered by other Republicans, both in Congress and on the presidential-campaign trail. Increased domestic energy production has become a hallmark of the GOP in recent years, and his plan borrows many of those same ideas. The oil and gas industry is also a major employer in Texas, so the proposal allows the governor to lead with a segment of the economy he understands well.

    Mr. Perry claims his energy plan is the most feasible because it doesn’t require congressional approval. He calls for opening new federal land, including Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to expanded oil and gas production, and expediting the permit process for offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico and along portions of the Atlantic Coast. Congress has debated opening the wildlife refuge for years but hasn’t approved it, and environmental experts question whether a president could claim the authority to do it without congressional approval.

    “If a president could allow drilling in the Arctic through executive order, George W. Bush would have done it on his first day in office,” said Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

    Mr. Perry criticized President Barack Obama repeatedly, saying the president’s energy and environmental policies make the U.S. more dependent “on hostile sources of energy,” naming Venezuela and countries in the Middle East. Mr. Perry also said Mr. Obama’s policies will cost the country 2.4 million jobs.

    “Creating jobs in America is as simple as changing presidents,” Mr. Perry said. “America needs jobs. America needs energy.”

    To roll back Obama administration policies, Mr. Perry would restructure the Environmental Protection Agency so that states would have more authority. He also would suspend new rule making under way that would give the EPA increased authority to police utilities and other large carbon emitters. Mr. Perry also would seek limits on environmental lawsuits that have tied up the issuance of federal permits and energy production.

    His plan calls for phasing out subsidy programs and tax incentives for energy producers while preserving those for research and development in the industry. Mr. Perry singled out renewable-energy industries, like wind farms, as a target for ending incentives.

    Mr. Perry is running on his record for job creation as Texas governor, attributing that record to the state’s low taxes, minimal regulatory burden and restrictions on frivolous lawsuits.

    But his rivals have started questioning that record. Mitt Romney’s campaign issued a release Friday pointing out that unemployment in Texas has doubled since Mr. Perry became governor. Mr. Romney and others also have criticized the Texas governor for the state’s proportion of low-wage workers and the uninsured. In recent weeks, the Romney campaign has also hectored Mr. Perry to offer specific proposals after speaking in generalities during his first two months as a candidate.

    The energy speech was Mr. Perry’s attempt to steady his campaign and refocus the race on the specific proposals he would push as president.

    “The central issue facing America is the lack of jobs,” Mr. Perry said Friday.

    He then distilled his economic plan to three basic principals: “Make what Americans buy, buy what Americans make and sell it to the world.”


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