Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is calling for Congress to "dismantle" the Environmental Protection Agency in its current form and open up restricted areas of Alaska, the American West, and the Gulf of Mexico to oil drilling, a move that he claims will create $1.2 million jobs nationwide. The key, and so far only, plank to his economic plan was unveiled Friday morning outside of Pittsburgh.
In Perry's view, environmental regulation should be more of a state function, with the EPA acting more as an advisory agency to help states collaborate. In addition, Perry would strip the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases and he would also put halt to EPA programs to restrict carbon dioxide emissions. Perry also calls for lifting current restrictions on new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, put in place by the Obama administration after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and for opening up for drilling long-restricted areas such as the Artic Natural Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Perry calls for boosting natural gas drilling as well, by lifting restrictions on hydraulic or nitrogen fracturing and opening up oil and natural gas development in the western U.S., which Perry said will create 500,000 jobs alone. The job figures, many of them based on industry-backed studies, are likely to get scrutiny from Democrats and environmental groups.
Much of Perry's platform has long been supported by Republicans, and many of the other GOP candidates are likely to agree with it. So how can it give him a boost in the primary? Perry has based much of his campaign on his record as a job creator in Texas, where the energy industry still plays a large role in keeping people working. With "Drill, Baby, Drill" still a popular slogan among Republicans, Perry is hoping that he can make the case that as the person who opened up oil fields in Texas, he's the best one to open them up across the country.