Rick Perry Discusses Energy, Jobs, During Visit to US Steel Plant in West Mifflin
By David Gerber, Contributing Writer
Texas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry visited the United States Steel Mon Valley Works Irvin Plant in West Mifflin on Friday, touting his plan to spur job creation in the United States as one “that will rebuild the engine of American prosperity.”
Called the Energizing American Jobs and Security Plan, Perry’s proposal aims to create 1.2 million jobs and centers on a simple premise coined by the Governor: “Make what Americans buy, buy what Americans make, and sell it to the world.”
Perry said his full proposal would also address tax and entitlement reform, while seeking spending reductions to address the country’s growing debt crisis.
He emphasized his intention to lessen U.S. dependence on hostile foreign nations like Venezuela and select Middle Eastern countries for energy and to begin to focus on American efforts to create jobs at home and achieve energy self-sufficiency.
“America is the Saudi Arabia of coal with 25 percent of the world’s supply. Our country contains up to 134 billion barrels of oil and nearly 1.2 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas. America has proven but untapped supplies of natural gas, oil and coal,” which can be found in numerous states across the country, Perry said.
In order to “un-tap” these various energy rich deposits, Perry said he will focus on reversing several Environmental Protection Agency regulations instituted during the Obama administration, which the Lone Star State chief executive believes prevent the U.S in taking advantage of its own natural resources. Perry plans on eliminating these and concentrating on energy exploration in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico, the mid-Atlantic and Alaska with state approval.
Ben Labolt, National Press Secretary for the Obama campaign, responded with a statement sent to PoliticsPA: “Governor Perry’s energy policy isn’t the way to win the future, it’s straight out of the past – doubling down on finite resources with no plan to promote innovation or to transition the nation to a clean energy economy.”
Perry’s visit earned his campaign some locally-based constructive criticism as well. Jim Burn, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said that the Texas Governor is not in sync with the needs of Pennsylvanians.
“We need jobs, and we have not seen this from Perry, who has seen unemployment in the state of Texas rise from 4.2% in 2000 to 8.5% in 2011,” said Burn. “He is clearly not ready in multiple areas to become the next leader of our nation.”
Also commenting on the Governor’s speech was PennEnvironemnt’s field director Adam Garber: “Governor Perry is using the economy as an excuse to push the agenda of big polluters, but the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians would be the real victims of this plan.” By EPA estimates, reducing pollutants like smog and soot from power plants inside and outside of the state will save up to 2,911 lives, prevent 1382 heart attacks, 731 hospitalizations, and 672 ER visits in Pennsylvania every year. Air quality improvement could benefit the over 2.77 million children at risk for asthma in Pennsylvania. It will also prevent 118,935 lost work days due to these illnesses and provide about $24 billion in benefits to Pennsylvania each year.”
The Texas Governor got off to a fast start when he entered the race in August, but as of late, numbers show that Perry’s approval rating has tumbled as low as 7 percent in a natonwide Gallup tracking survey released this week.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released in September, President Obama leads Governor Rick Perry by sixteen points (52 percent to 36 percent) in Allegheny County specifically, though Perry maintains a comparable advantage in the Southwestern part of the state (51 percent -34 percent) as a whole.
Pennsylvania – and in particular Southwestern Pennsylvania – has been a hotbed for presidential attention this month. On Tuesday, President Obama visited the IBEW workers union in Pittsburgh’s South Side and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been invited by the Republican Committee of Allegheny County to attend a fundraiser to be held at the CONSOL Energy Center on October 27.
“This is just a reaffirmation of what we have said, that Southwestern Pa and the State of Pennsylvania are ground zero in this Presidential election,” Burn said. “Earlier this week, the President reassured me that he will be here quite a bit throughout the upcoming year.”