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June 15, 2015, photo. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Republican presidential hopeful Bush sets domestic energy as priority

Lifting government restrictions on oil and natural gas exports, and building the Keystone XL pipeline are essential to domestic production and affordable consumer energy prices, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told the Tribune-Review.

Bush on Tuesday is scheduled to lay out his energy policy during a visit to the Cecil offices of Rice Energy, which produces natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

“The energy sector is extraordinarily important for high growth and high income, for all Americans,” Bush said, citing studies showing that 40 percent of economic growth in the country since 2008 can be attributed to that sector.

He told the Trib that he long has advocated less government intervention in exporting oil and gas. Bush would enable more gas exports to non-Free Trade Agreement allies, particularly in Eastern Europe, which sometimes exclusively depend on Russia to meet their energy demands.

That would help reduce the nation’s trade deficit, he said, and would not lead to a significant price increase domestically, according to a Department of Energy-commissioned study.

His energy plan is geared toward helping American families, Bush said. Building the pipeline, reducing regulation and giving more deference to states that want to drill will assist “domestic energy production and create jobs, increase wages, make gas and electricity cheaper, and help us achieve and sustain 4-percent economic growth,” he said.

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The energy industry has a multiplier effect because most equipment used to extract and deliver gas and oil in the United States is American-made, he said. “So it is a hugely important sector and in spite of the (production) revolution that we are seeing, the Obama administration has done everything that it can to make it harder,” he said.

Approval of the pipeline is essential, Bush said, as is systematic reduction of regulations, “whether it is the Bureau of Land Management, standards for hydraulic fracturing, methane rules that the (Environmental Protection Agency) creates that create real uncertainty,” he said. He cited the slow process of leasing federal land and waters, and the EPA’s carbon rule that “will create significantly higher costs.”

“Even though we have had a decline in oil production in the last few months because of price, if we are serious about a national energy policy, we could be energy secure in relatively short order with North American resources,” he said.

States that want to develop or expand energy production, such as Alaska and Virginia, “should be given much more deference than they are today,” Bush said.

President Obama and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton don’t see the industry as an economic driver, Bush said, but “as some sort of environmental socialist agenda.”

His energy plan goes hand in hand with a proposal to reduce taxes by $3.4 trillion during the next decade and his pledge for 4 percent economic growth, Bush said.

“There is great frustration and anger that the system is not working for anybody,” he said.

Voters ultimately look for “which candidate has their heart, cares and understands their plight, and who has the ideas to lift them up,” he said. “… Every presidential race is different, but as you get closer to decision day, that is what is going to matter.”

Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

This article was written by Salena Zito from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.