Herman Cain is perhaps the most unique candidate in a unique field of Republican presidential hopefuls. He comes from the private sector, where he is most well-known for being the CEO of Godfather's Pizza. He has a syndicated news column. When he has dabbled in politics — as he has done over the last 20 years — he been on the losing end of almost every political contest he has entered. But in 2012, Cain thinks he can be a winner.

Touting a big business, anti-regulation and “government is evil” platform, the loquacious Cain has waltzed into the Republican primary and grabbed more than his fair share of attention. In doing so, Cain has also carved out an energy platform that is, true to form, skeptical of the government, skewed towards big energy producers, and filled with the sound bites that are spicier than any topping at your local Godfather's Pizza.

Lower gas prices

During a debate in South Carolina, Cain was asked about his plan for lowering the price we pay at the pump. His answer was short on specifics, but did articulate that he has a basic understanding of what causes changes in gas prices. “Getting it out of the ground, refining and distribution, and speculators,” said Cain. “If the world market believed that [the United States was] serious about energy independence, and we were going to utilize all of our existing resources, the speculators would stop speculating up, and they would speculate down until we got our own oil out of the ground.” Cain feels that if we increase our production in the United States, than prices will immediately fall because the speculators will stop. That’s some ironic speculation, which brings us to our next point.

Drill here, drill now, vote Cain

Cain thinks we can drill our way out of our energy challenges. He announced this approach when responding to President Obama’s claims that he can’t control the price of gas. “With all due respect, Mr. President, there is something you could do to ease the pain at the pump. Namely, declare and implement a 'drill here, drill now' strategy. And remove the ridiculous restrictions on shale oil deposits available out West.” This fits right in with Cain’s belief that the Arctic Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) should be opened up to petroleum production. Cain also supports opening up more onshore drilling sites throughout the West. He calls restrictions on drilling, particularly shale drilling, “ridiculous.”

EPA is a public enemy

Cain — who first and foremost is a businessman — loves to describe the Environmental Protection Agency as a job-killer. This belief is so strong that Cain wants to create a commission to eliminate regulation that is made up of so called “EPA victims.” “Whenever science does not back up a regulation, it’s gone, that’s the idea,” said the former Godfather's Pizza CEO. “If you have been abused by the EPA, you are a candidate for this commission. We need to stand up for average Americans and job creators and we need to get government back in check.”

While the idea of creating a commission to reduce bureaucracy may seem mildly counterintuitive, perhaps nothing regarding Cain’s energy policy is odder than his idea to allow oil companies to regulate the oil industry. Once again, the idea centers around a Cain-created commission. This time the commission will be tasked with speeding up the process for developing fossil fuels. “The people on this commission are the people who will know something about coal, oil, shale oil, natural gas. They will be people whose business or individuals who have been abused by the EPA. If you have been abused by the EPA like the CEO of Shell Oil, than I will ask the CEO of Shell oil to be on this commission and give me some recommendations,” said Cain during a stump speech.

He didn’t stop there. Cain explained that his idea to have Shell’s CEO weigh in on making policy friendlier to Shell is in line with what his overall philosophy would be if elected president. “The people who are closest to the problem are the ones who can solve the problem. That’s one of my guiding principles.”

Cap-and-trade is a scheme; human-caused global warming is fake

Another one of Cain’s guiding principles is his denial of the science suggesting that human activities are contributing to the Earth’s changing weather patterns. “Mr. Cain does not believe in man-made global warming. He has stated that there has been no proven [sic] that global warming is a crisis. He opposed the cap and trade legislation, calling it nothing more that a tax scheme,” read one assessment of Cain’s energy policy.

Cain’s opposition to cap-and-trade comes with an interesting account of who came up with the idea. In 2008, Cain wrote an opinion piece in which he explained, “The people who conceived and wrote this crap are obviously descendants of the same people who wrote the original tax code in 1913, the Social Security legislation in 1935, the Medicare bill of 1965 and the out-of-control prescription drug legislation of 2004.” The only flaw with Cain’s view on this is that cap-and-trade is the brainchild of Republicans in the 1980s who wanted a market-based, business mechanism to clean the atmosphere of carbon emissions.

All of the above

Herman Cain’s energy beliefs are rounded out by the theory that we need an “all of the above” energy policy and that we should be ending subsidies for ethanol. “America is a land blessed with abundant natural resources and the capability of the people to obtain them. From the oil-rich states of Louisiana and Alaska to the mighty dams along rivers, the options for many forms of energy are real and plenty. Still, liberals continue to perpetuate the misunderstanding that the high-energy consumption of a thriving nation and conservation of our precious planet are at odds with one another,” said Cain.

The businessman is also such a believer in the free-market system that he refuses to support subsidies for the corn-based ethanol industry. “We must allow all forms of energy the ability to develop in a free-market system,” explains Cain’s website. Yet, interestingly enough, Cain hasn’t said much about if he would be in favor of repealing the billions in subsidies handed out to the major oil companies in the United States. It will be interesting to see if he wants the government’s hands in the oil market, since he is opposed to that idea for the clean tech industry.

Herman Cain has a way with words, and wherever he goes, most give him a listen. If he makes it through the primary process, he will be a stark alternative to President Obama.

Herman Cain's environmental record
The former CEO-turned-presidential candidate has unique views on energy and environmental policy.