In an attempt to explain how the U.S. would achieve sustainable 4 percent GDP growth, as Republican candidate Jeb Bush stated was his goal if elected president, the former Florida governor announced his national energy plan on Tuesday at a campaign stop near Pittsburgh, PA.
Gov. Bush’s plan has four main components:
- Lift the export ban on crude oil (in place since 1975), and cut restrictions on natural gas exports (currently imposed on non-NAFTA countries).
- Reduce energy-sector regulations – fracking rules, EPA’s Clean Power Plan (sets emissions standards for power plants which Mr. Bush claims will increase household electricity costs).
- Allow states to exploit their own energy resources without federal government interference.
- Approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Mr. Bush’s campaign argues that lifting the export ban will reduce gas prices at the pump by an average of six cents per gallon within three years.
Currently, some House Republicans support legislation repealing the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, overseen by the Commerce Department. White House press secretary Josh Earnest has said that the President wouldn’t be in favor of such an effort.
Responding to the GOP candidate’s energy proposal, DNC spokesperson Christina Freundlich said, “His dirty-oil-driven plan has been tried before, and it was disastrous for the American people.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, also was critical of Bush’s plan, commenting that it “reads like a Big Oil wish list, while apparently omitting clean energy and renewables.”
Ms. Clinton announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline at a community forum in Des Moines, IA, on September 22.
Mr. Bush counters that he is “not suggesting unregulating the world”, but wants to put in place “common sense 21st century rules.”
Oil industry economists have already criticized Bush’s energy plan by pointing out that exporting U.S. crude will not have a direct effect on retail gas prices. Independent studies have shown that such a policy shift would help grow the overall economy, however.
Bush’s announcement on Tuesday coincided with the unveiling of new EPA regulations on oil refineries. The goal is to reduce toxic emissions by installing air monitors along property lines. If emissions exceed threshold levels, then facilities will be legally obligated to reduce their toxic output.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said 6 million people who live within three miles of a refinery would be protected by the new rules. There are currently 140 such facilities in the U.S., the majority of which are concentrated in the Gulf Coast region, and major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago.
On Thursday, the EPA is set to roll out a new ozone pollutant standard (part of the Clean Air Act) of 70 parts per billion, down from 75. This new environmental standard is estimated to cost the refining industry $3.9 billion by 2025.
Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, James Inhoffe (R-OK), called the new ozone standard a job killer which “is not only irresponsible, but also impractical and economically destructive.”
[Washington Post] [New York Times] [Christian Science Monitor] [CNN] [AP]