Huntsman’s comments came as he was responding to a voter’s question about the hidden cost of oil:
Voter: Governor, I’d like to thank you for your bravery in pointing out that we need a new national security strategy. One that’s not bankrupting America. One that’s indicating that the global policing, nation building approach is not defending national security.
I want to turn to energy. We spend… In New Hampshire we spend about $3 billion a year importing fossil fuels that we can’t produce here. We don’t have it and we won’t have it. My question is, I know you back a level playing field energy, would you back bringing all the hidden costs, the hidden subsidies for fossil fuels that we can’t produce here into the cost of fossil fuels, such as lung disease, premature mortality, storm disasters, subsidies, tax subsidies such that our energy sources that we have here, such as wind and biomass, we can produce those and compete on a level playing field.
Would you bring those hidden subsidies into the cost so that all energy sources can compete on a level playing field?
Jon Huntsman: Thank you for your question. My energy policy calls us drawing upon all the energy options we have available to us and we have them in great abundance in this country.
First of all, we need to level the playing field by phasing out subsidies and the corporate welfare. I mean, you kind of got to look at our tax code and look at how bunched up its become over many, many years and what its costs people to comply with our tax code these days.
And I say, “Clear it out. Lower the rate. Create a level playing for one and all.”
And I think for the energy sector that would be very, very important.
We all know that at some point we are going to be drawing a whole lot more from the sun and from the wind. That’s inevitable. Everybody wants to do that at some point. But we have made a mistake by trying to subsidize things too quickly when they’re not ready for the marketplace. So you force technologies into the marketplace when they’re not ready and they fail.
And I’m saying that the business community, science and technology will continue working on technologies that will draw from the sun and draw from… That’s inevitable.
What I wan’t to make I do as president is that we’re able to draw from some products that I would call transition products. Bridge products like natural gas that allow us to move from the here and now into the future. That might be 20 years, it might be 25 years before we have viable technology that allows us to do what all of us we can do from a science and technology standpoint.
I think we ought to be drawing from that which we have in such abundance.
Voter: But I’m wondering taking the hidden subsidies: the premature mortality, the lung disease – putting those into the price.
Jon Huntsman: If you take out subsidies and as businesses have to deal with the reality of – whether a hypercarbon based economy or what – all those costs are going to have to be factored in at some point. So I say start by taking out the subsidies and let the costs stand on their own. I think that would be a very good place to start.
But the energy policies, we all need to get our heads around. Because for 8 presidents, starting with Nixon, who said, “You know, 38 percent imported oil. This is a carrying shame. We’re not let this get any higher.”
Carter takes over – 40 percent imported oil. “You know, I’m going to create the Department of Energy to make sure that this doesn’t get any higher.”
And here we sit at 60 percent imported oil.
But let’s talk about some of the fully loaded costs. We go to the gas pump and we pay four bucks or four bucks and fifty cents or whatever it is for a gallon of gas. Take a look at the fully loaded costs.
So the Milken Institute of Los Angeles, they a great quantitative shop. They do terrific quantitative analysis. They will say when you factor in the deployment costs, when you factor in keeping the sea lanes open for the importation of oil. By the way, the Europeans derive a benefit from that as well. When you factor in the terminaling and handling and storage costs, it’s not $3 or $4 or $5 a gallon. It’s $13 a gallon.
If Americans were to stop and just do the math and figure out what it costs this country on a fully loaded basis, they’d be running for cover. They’d say that $300 billion transfer of wealth from the United States to countries that are dangerous and unpredictable. Those days are over. I mean, those days have got to be over.
We’ve got to move toward energy independence. It can be done. And I believe it is the will of the people in this country to move us in that direction as quickly as possible.
Granite Grok captured Huntsman's comments on video. The energy portion of the Q&A starts at 5:50: