In a Republican debate that saw Rick Perry forget whether or not he wants to cut the Department of Energy, the issue of energy received light treatment from GOP presidential candidates and CNBC moderators alike.
A few of the Republican presidential candidates trotted out the usual talking points.
“We can move toward energy independence,” said Jon Huntsman.
“… we have to legalize American energy,” proclaimed Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party Congresswoman from 6th District of Minnesota.
Former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum was the only candidate who came close to making any kind of substantive remarks on energy policy at last night’s CNBC Republican debate.
And then, of course, an energy policy that everyone on this stage is going to agree with that says, we are going to produce energy in this country. I'm different than many of them, that I'm going to cut all the subsidies out and let the market work, as opposed to creating incentives for different -- different forms of energy that the government supports.
Moderator Jim Cramer, best known for his show Mad Money, challenged Santorum on the question of energy subsidies:
Senator Santorum, I want to talk about a high-quality problem our country has.
I just came back from North Dakota. We have made the largest oil discovery in a generation there. Not only is it a -- the find a big step toward creating energy independence, it stands to create as many as 300,000 jobs. But what the guys tell me up there is that they can't handle the rush without federal help.
Would you favor incentives, incentives to get workers and businesses to where the jobs are to support this boom?
Here is how Santorum responded:
No, because we have done it in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has Marcellus Shale. It took a while for us to ramp up, but we're drilling 3,000 to 4,000 wells.
The price of natural gas, because of Marcellus Shale, which is the second largest natural gas find in the world, has gone from $12 to $3.65. And we let the marketplace work. So, no, we didn't have the federal government come in and bail us out.
Later in the evening, Texas Governor Rick Perry took a shot at explaining his own energy policy:
When -- when you look at what I've laid out, whether it -- the energy side and getting the energy industry going -- and Rick Santorum is absolutely correct on that, is let's get our energy industry freed up, federal lands, federal waters, pull back all of those regulations. Everybody on this stage understands it's the regulatory world that is killing America.
A complete transcript of the November 9, 2011 “Your Money, Your Vote” Republican Presidential Debate is available on CNBC.com