Remember Newt Gingrich? Well, he hasn’t forgotten about the voters of Iowa, where he took some time to discuss energy policy over the weekend.
According to the Iowa Republican, which is an online publication “for Republicans by Republicans,” Gingrich pulled his tour bus over to speak with 40 potential caucus voters who grilled him on everything from his campaign to his thoughts on whether or not President Obama is a Muslim. The former Speaker of the House fielded all the questions, including one about energy policy. Gingrich spoke for several minutes on that subject and here are five of the highlights I took away from his remarks.
1. We should be drilling here, not in Brazil
Gingrich has a serious problem with the idea that President Obama was encouraging Brazil to develop its oil supplies offshore as a way of weaning the United States off of Middle Eastern oil. “I am deeply committed to an American energy policy and one of the things I guarantee you will see if I am the nominee is that there will be a commercial that shows President Obama in Brazil saying to the Brazilians, ‘I’m really glad you’re drilling offshore, and I am really glad we can have $2 billion in loan guarantees so you can buy equipment to drill offshore.’"
But that wasn’t the only thing Gingrich took issue with. Staying on the Brazil topic, Gingrich seemed befuddled at another of Obama’s remarks. “Then he went on to say the most extraordinary thing, ‘I hope we can be your best customer.’ I don’t think he get’s it. We don’t hire a president to be a purchasing agent for foreign countries. If he said ‘I hope you’ll be our best customer,’ that would have made some sense.”
2. Confusion over offshore drilling
Not only is Gingrich enraged by Obama’s moratorium on offshore oil production in the wake of the 2010 oil spill, but he says the president’s caution on other offshore projects is costing big money. “[Obama’s] policies in the Gulf of Mexico have cut production by 20 percent from what they were projected to be. They are releasing some oil from the strategic petroleum reserve and one estimate is that they stopped four and a half times as much production as they are releasing…Shell just gave up $3 billion in investment because they got so frustrated that they thought it was hopeless. [President Obama is] releasing 30 million barrels and there are 20 billion barrels of Alaska that we could get to.”
3. Shale drilling good, pipeline oversight bad
Gingrich pointed to North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation as a sign of both hope and frustration for American energy. The Bakken shale formation is a huge deposit of oil that, since its discovery, has been a boon to the folks of North Dakota. “The Bakken shale formation in North Dakota is producing oil and gas. This is a hint for the future, it has reduced North Dakotas unemployment to 3.5 percent.” This is something Gingrich likes, but he doesn’t like the review process the EPA has for approving the construction of pipelines that carry that energy. On the same day a pipeline accident poured tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana, and after a year of endless pipeline accidents, Gingrich complained that there was too much oversight when it came to pipelines in this country. “The EPA isn’t approving the pipelines we need to move oil and gas from the new formations to where it needs to be. So once again we are being strangled by and anti-American energy administration.”
4. Fossil fuels first
Somewhere in the middle of his thoughts about energy policy, Gingrich decided to recalibrate and make sure his big points about energy were clear. This is when he reiterated his true feelings about fossil fuels. “I am for drilling, I am for oil, I am for gas, I am for the use of coal where we have the largest supply in the planet. We have more energy in coal than Saudi Arabia has in oil.” It was interesting to see Gingrich in action. You could tell he knew he hadn’t scored any big sound bites, and decided to make sure he scored big when it came to appeasing what he must have perceived as a fossil fuel base in his audience.
5. Wind is not forgotten
Before he stopped talking, Gingrich seemed to remember he was in one of the largest wind producing states in the nation. And in true Gingrich form, the former speaker killed two birds with one stone, by simultaneously endorsing wind while taking a shot at “Northeast elites,” something that plays well in among Iowa Republicans. “I am for the use of wind power. I just flew in over a whole bunch of towers here in Iowa. And apparently, unlike Cape Cod, the farmers here don’t seem to mind being paid to have wind production on their properties.”
The video of the entire discussion is posted below. Gingrich’s technique is thoughtful, long-winded and a blend between talking points and jabs at the left-wing. It may play well in the Hawkeye State, and if Gingrich has any hopes of getting the Republican nomination it will have to.