Monday, October 24, 2011

Newt Gingrich defends ethanol at Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition - video and transcript

Newt Gingrich launched into a lengthy defense of the ethanol industry at the October 22, 2011 Iowa Faith and Freedom Conference Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa. While generally viewed as a platform for the GOP presidential candidates to express their views on conservative social values, the event was sponsored by the Iowa Energy Forum, an arm of the American Petroleum Institute backed America's Energy Forum.

Like all of the candidates who attended the event, Gingrich was asked to answer two questions about energy policy.

Question #1: What is your comprehensive plan to shape your future administration’s energy policy, and please include how this approach differs from the current administration.

Newt Gingrich: You know, I’ve heard you ask that several times tonight. And my first thought when you say, “Tell us how it would differ from the current administration,” is, “You’ve got to be kidding.
This is the most anti-American energy industry administration in history. It is just unbelievable. So start with that. 
Okay, this a President who goes to Brazil and says to Brazilians, “I’m really glad you’re drilling offshore. And I’d like us to be your best customer,” which I thought was a sign that he had it exactly backwards. The job of the American president is not to be a purchasing agent for foreign countries. It is to be a salesman for the United States of America.
A friend of mine said, “The only way to develop Alaska is to sell it to the Alaskans, and then Obama will think it is terrific.”
If you go to and the 21st Century Contract with America, we outline an energy plan. It’s pretty straightforward. Look, Michele Bachmann had it right. We have more energy than any other country. When you take all over our energy – 20 percent of your electricity here comes from wind, which makes it second only to Denmark as a producer of wind.
I have always been a supporter of ethanol. I even supported ethanol when it was called gasohol in 1984. And I did it for a practical reason. If my choice is for the next dollar to go to Iran or to go to Iowa, I pick Iowa. If the next dollar is to go to Saudi Arabia or to South Dakota, I pick South Dakota. And if you look at the growing efficiencies of corn production and the growing efficiencies of ethanol production, it has been a 25-year success story of greater and greater productivity, which has kept money here at home, enriched rural communities, created a much better environment for the United States. And the fact is we need to develop more and better science in biofuels, not cut them off.
And I just want to say one thing about – I don’t want to pick a fight with any of my friends who are running, but I get a little weary of people who represent oil, which has consistently attacked subsidies for its entire history, explaining that they’re really not sure about these subsidies. Notice its always “these subsidies” – it’s never the ones down there. 
I noticed when Senator Coburn introduced a bill, which was anti-ethanol, he didn’t include subsidies for gas and oil, because as an Oklahoman that would’ve been suicidal.
So I just think that we ought to have a fair playing field. I would extend and make permanent any kind of credit for things like wind or solar so there is a capital investment ratio – I mean rational. I would also continue to develop flex fuel vehicles, which is really – the next stage of ethanol isn’t a subsidy for ethanol. It’s getting to flex fuel tanks and getting to flex fuel vehicles so that everybody in American can make a consumer choice. Because the truth is when oil reaches a certain price ethanol is cheaper, not more expensive. But you have to have vehicles that can use it and gas stations that have it. So there are steps that we can take there.
But I’m also for oil and gas. I mean, it is crazy for us to have an area in the Chuckci Sea. This is not ANWR. The Chuckci Sea off Alaska has as much oil and gas as the Gulf of Mexico. And our current litigation policies allow all sorts of left wing environmental groups to stop - Shell oil gave up $3 billion and quit.  
So I would go through every single stage and I have a very simple model. Keep the $500 billion a year in energy that goes overseas here at home. It’s better for the economy. It’s better for Americans jobs. It’s better for national security and it makes it much easier for us to then deal with dictators overseas the way we should deal with them, without any concern for economic reprisal.

Question #2: If you could reverse one energy policy decision from the last three years, what would it be and what would you do differently?

Newt Gingrich: Actually, I think the biggest ones were personnel. If you were going to have a Department of Energy, which I wouldn’t, but if you were going to have one you ought to have Secretary who is pro-American energy. We don’t. 
The current Secretary is anti-American energy. He favors some fantasy that made perfect sense at Berkeley in a classroom and makes no sense in the real world.
By the way, I would also have a Secretary of Interior who favored American solutions, as opposed to the current Secretary, who has done everything he could to stop any production, anywhere in the country. 
Video of Newt Gingrich's comments on energy at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition (starts at 12:10):

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