By Kaise Hunt
Former House speaker and possible 2012 candidate Newt Gingrich called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency in a Tuesday speech in Iowa
In an address at the Renewable Fuels Summit, Gingrich told attendees, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a key figure in the state's first-in-nation Republican presidential caucuses, that the EPA should be replaced with a new "Environmental Solutions Agency."
The replacement agency "would encourage innovation, incentivize success and emphasize sound science and new technology over bureaucracy, regulation, litigation and restrictions on American energy," according to materials provided by Gingrich aide Rick Tyler.
"We need to have an agency that is first of all limited, but cooperates with the 50 states," Gingrich told The Associated Press in an interview." The EPA is based on bureaucrats centered in Washington issuing regulations and litigation and basically opposing things."
Gingrich also used his speech to challenge President Barack Obama to use his State of the Union address to outline what Gingrich dubbed an "all of the above" energy strategy that would "truly demonstrate he is serious about governing from the center."
Gingrich's list of energy policies includes providing incentives for flex fuel vehicles that can use corn-based ethanol rather than gasoline -- a key issue for Iowa's farm economy.
He also won the promise of a key Iowa endorsement if he does run for president. Linda Upmeyer, the Iowa House majority leader, introduced Gingrich and called him "the right guy to be president of the United States."
After the speech, Upmeyer told the Des Moines Register that she's a "real fan" of Gingrich who is "pretty likely" to back him if he does run for president.
Also speaking at the Iowa summit was former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is also considering a 2012 presidential bid. The appearance is Santorum's ninth visit to Iowa since the 2008 elections.