Jeb Bush's energy plan seeks to out-Republican the Republicans

Released on Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush's energy plan stands in direct opposition to the energy policies put forth by the Obama administration.

(Mic Smith/AP)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to local South Carolina republicans during the East Cooper Republican Women's Club Annual Shrimp Dinner at Alhambra Hall in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says ending the ban on U.S. oil exports and easing restrictions on natural gas exports will unleash the nation’s economy. Bush is scheduled to discuss the plan at Rice Energy near Pittsburgh, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Jeb Bush’s choice of venue to unveil his energy plan is telling. The Republican presidential candidate will speak Tuesday afternoon near Pittsburgh at Rice Energy, an oil and gas company known for its advances in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

Mr. Bush says he plans to repeal the renewable fuel standard, restrictions on fracking, and current limits on carbon emissions by US power plants.

In other words, he wants to do the opposite of President Obama.

In a Medium post published on Tuesday, Bush wrote that any federal plans to suppress domestic energy production and raise energy prices should be rejected by the next president.

"With the right policies and leadership, we can, in the near-term, achieve 4% growth and restore the opportunity for every American to rise," Bush wrote. "But that will only happen if we reverse damaging federal energy policies."

Among those policies would be Obama's plan, released last month, to order power plants to cut carbon emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. 

Specifically, Bush says he will lift restrictions on natural gas exports that have made energy exportation to countries like China difficult, and he will also support lifting a US ban on crude oil exports.

Lifting this ban, wrote Bush, would create “hundreds of thousands of additional jobs and significantly lower net energy costs within two years.”

Bush also vows to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a Canada-to-Texas pipeline that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has already openly opposed. “She favors environmental extremists over US jobs,” Bush said at the event.   

The GOP candidate again sounded off on the Democratic front-runner in his post Tuesday. “Even more extreme, Hillary Clinton has indicated she would flatly prohibit drilling off the northern coast of Alaska,” he says.   

But if Bush’s energy plan seems to hew close to the party line on energy policy, that’s intentional. His energy plan is part of an extended campaign approach to present the former Florida governor as a true conservative, compared to other candidates, such as, say, Donald Trump, who are also competing for the upcoming Republican presidential nomination.

“He is relying on former officials from his brother’s administration,” says DNC spokeswoman Christina Freundlich in a statement. Bush’s top energy policy advisors include Marcus Peacock and Jeff Kupfer, both of whom served under George W. Bush as an associate director for natural resource programs at the Office of Management and Budget and deputy secretary at the US Department of Energy, respectively. “His dirty oil-driven plan has been tried before, and it was disastrous for the American people,” adds Ms. Freundlich.

And what about climate change?

“I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage [of climate change] is man-made and … what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted,” Bush said recently. “And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.”

Several peer-reviewed studies show that at least 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that the climate warming trend seen over the past century is very likely caused by human activities, a position that has been endorsed by most of the world's major scientific organizations.

Again on this issue, Bush tries to show his Republicanism. According to a Pew Research poll, 88 percent of Democrats think the government should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, compared to 50 percent of Republicans.

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