By Ben Geman
GOP White House hopeful Rick Perry said Tuesday evening that removing restrictions on U.S. energy production will be a central pillar of the economic plan he intends to unveil in coming days.
"Clearly opening up a lot of the areas of our domestic energy . . . that is a the real key. You have got an administration that by and large has either by intimidation or over-regulation put our energy industry and the rest of the economy in jeopardy," Perry, the Texas governor, said early in Tuesday's debate in New Hampshire.
"Clearly, we are going to be focused on initially the energy industry in this country and making American again independent, and clearly the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from," Perry said.
The comments follow an op-ed that Perry -- who has seen his standing drop in recent polls -- published in New Hampshire's Union Leader calling for wider oil-and-gas drilling.
The op-ed calls for drilling in areas including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as wider leasing off Alaska's Arctic coast, opening the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coast to oil-and-gas development, faster permitting in Gulf areas where drilling is already authorized, and wider onshore oil and natural gas drilling.
Perry, in the op-ed, also vows to roll back the "radical" agenda of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Obama administration in February resumed deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas drilling permitting that had been suspended after the BP spill. The administration has imposed tougher drilling safety standards, and many Republicans and industry officials say permitting is moving too slowly.
More broadly, the Obama administration says that it supports domestic oil-and-gas production, and the Interior Department recently approved Royal Dutch Shell's plan to begin drilling next year in Arctic waters off Alaska's coast (though the company still needs several other federal green lights despite the exploration plan approval).
But the administration, after the BP spill, also backed off plans to sell oil-and-gas leases off the Atlantic Coast and in the Eastern Gulf, pledging instead to focus on areas where leasing is already permitted.