Energy for a New American Century

These are remarks, as prepared for delivery, by Marco Rubio in Oklahoma City on September 2, 2015.

Thank you. I want to spend most of our time today taking your questions, but I’d like to begin with a few short remarks.

As many of you know, I’ve based my campaign for president on the question of how we can make the 21st century a New American Century. And the topic we’re here to discuss today is a crucial component of my plan to achieve that goal.

The energy industry is central to our future in every way — in terms of our economic growth, in terms of the financial security of our families, and in terms of our strength as a global leader.

The fortunate truth is that America is uniquely blessed with energy resources, more than we realized we had even ten years ago. There are multiple nations on earth with a great deal of oil and natural gas. There are multiple nations with access to important oceanic and hydroelectric resources. There are multiple nations with lush forests and tillable land. But there is no nation that has all of these at the same time and to the same extent that America does.

The fact that we have the greatest energy potential of any nation on the planet is an enormous advantage for us in this century. It is hard to think of a single industry that has a more direct impact on the financial wellbeing of everyday Americans than the energy industry.

Our energy resources truly sustain our human resources. Our businesses need to be able to operate affordably and efficiently in order to create jobs and grow our economy, our families need reasonable gas and electric bills in order to reach financial security, and working moms and dads need to be able to commute to work without breaking the bank.

Yet despite its importance, our outdated government continues to make energy one of the most politicized and regulated aspects of our economy. Washington continues to lean on the notion that handing out subsidies to favored companies while imposing new mandates and taxes on others is the way to seize our energy potential. But this didn’t work yesterday, it isn’t working today, and it’s not going to work tomorrow.

Many regulations are concerned with protecting the environment, and some of these are important. We all want clean air to breath and clean water to drink. We all want to preserve the natural beauty of our land. But while many of the environmental concerns influencing regulations are legitimate, others are seriously overblown.

As a result, we have a small but vocal minority, with some very highly paid lobbyists, who have successfully pushed for regulations that result in higher prices and fewer jobs for our people in exchange for minimal environmental benefits.

I believe that the vast majority of Americans — both Democrats and Republicans — are very reasonable when it comes to balancing ecology with the economy. And I believe it is conservatives, not liberals, who ultimately have the more sustainable and forward-looking agenda.

This is because the true path to an economically and environmentally secure energy future is not through regulation, but through innovation. And innovation comes from less government involvement, not more.

It is private innovators, not government officials, who are best suited to discover cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient ways to access our resources. It is private innovators, not government officials, who are best suited to find affordable fuel alternatives, or to continue developing substitutes such as electric and battery powered vehicles.

America’s energy future must be entrusted to our businesses and scientists, not our bureaucrats. And finding ways to empower our energy producers to capture our energy potential should be a priority for every presidential candidate.

Unfortunately, what we hear from Hillary Clinton are more of the same ideas from yesterday — and that’s when she speaks up on the issue at all. For the most part, she resorts to empty rhetoric that refuses to chart much of a course in either direction. This is no way to treat one of the most important issues of our time.

I will be rolling out a detailed plan this fall for capturing our energy potential. But I’d like to give you a short preview of that plan today.

One of the first things I will do as president is immediately lift the ban on crude-oil exports. This ban is a perfect example of just how outdated Washington has become. President Nixon signed it into law in the 1970s — long before the economy was transformed by technology and globalization, long before the hydraulic fracturing and shale revolutions launched a new era for American energy.

Lifting the crude-oil export ban will be an immediate boon to our economy.

It will create hundreds of thousands of American jobs and promote growth across every industry. It will help make America a net energy exporter within a few years. It will strengthen our national security interests by stabilizing global energy markets and reducing the leverage of oil-rich anti-American governments.

Here’s another common-sense step I will take as president: I will stop the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which, if enacted, would have a devastating impact on affordable energy in exchange for little to no environmental benefit.

It would result in the closure of coal-fired power plants around the country. It would kill thousands of jobs. It would jeopardize the reliability of our national power grid, threatening power shortages and even blackouts. It would truly be one of the most expensive and costly regulations ever created. Yet Hillary Clinton has pledged to make defending and expanding it a “top priority.”

As president, I will immediately stop this massive regulation. I’ll pursue a sweeping overhaul of the regulatory system to make sure costs and benefits of new rules are accurately accounted for and that localities, states, and industries can meet the timelines I set forward.

The days of arbitrary, damaging rules like the Clean Power Plan and the so-called “Waters of the U.S. mandate” will come to an end.

And that brings me to one final step I’d like to preview today, which is the work I will do as president to empower states to regulate energy production within their own borders. Senator Lankford has been a bold leader on this issue.

As he’ll tell you, Washington is currently on a crusade to take control of energy production away from the states. For example, the Bureau of Land Management is pursuing new, duplicative restrictions on hydraulic fracturing. State and local governments are far better equipped than Washington to oversee energy production and balance environmental concerns.

Not only that, but anyone and everyone running for president needs to understand a basic truth: the Constitution grants very specific powers to the federal government, and if something isn’t on that list, it falls under the purview of the states. So when I take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, I am going to take that oath very seriously — and that will include allowing the states to control their own energy futures.

Oklahoma is proof of the ability of states to achieve their own energy potential. It is now the 4th largest natural gas producer in the U.S., and the entire energy industry led to $65 billion in gross state product in 2013 and supports more than 465,000 jobs. That’s a staggering 20 percent of the state’s labor force.

Oklahoma has been at the forefront of the shale revolution, which has helped turn America into the number one oil and natural gas producer in the world. Nationally, lower energy costs driven by new technologies have already helped America become competitive again in sectors where we had begun to lag, such as manufacturing.

This growth and revival can continue across all industries, and it will continue if we unleash our energy potential, and it must continue if we want to make the 21st century an American Century.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to taking your questions.