Jon Huntsman's Jobs Plan Cements Shift From Green Republican To Energy Hawk
Huntsman proposed a series of initiatives that are sure to anger environmentalists. Not that that hurts Huntsman in the Republican primary, in which Huntsman has failed miserably so far to gain traction in the polls. In fact, it will be a plus for him with conservatives -- many believe environmental objections have gone too far, especially when they prevent the U.S. from producing more of its own energy or obtaining it from more friendly allies.
And Huntsman's plan makes a sharp point about the need to increase oil imports from Canada, before China steps in and makes deals instead. Huntsman's outline notes that Canada has more reserves in its Alberta oil sands than exist in all of Iraq.
"Others see the potential in these fields. China wants to invest in Canada’s oil infrastructure. Meanwhile, the United States government is dithering over a pipeline’s proposal to ship Canadian oil to the United States," Huntsman's plan said. "The federal government needs to assure Canada that American consumers are ready and willing to purchase the production of Alberta's oil sands."
"Every barrel from a friend is one less from a foe," the plan adds.
Huntsman's endorsement of oil sands extraction, however, definitely moves him away from his past positions on the need to prevent global warming. One of the biggest concerns with oil sands production is that the extraction process creates significantly more in the way of greenhouse gases than does producing conventional oil from drilling.
But the steps outlined in his jobs plan flesh out the degree to which Huntsman -- who said recently he believes global warming is a real problem -- has moved away from his past position on preventing climate change.
In addition to calling for increased imports from Canada, Huntsman also announced support Wednesday for expedited review of environmental objections to domestic drilling, and said there should be more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and "across the states."
Huntsman also said he supports an increase in the retrieval of natural gas through "fracking" -- though he acknowledged the need for "weighing environmental concerns" -- said "regulatory roadblocks" to increased natural gas production should be removed, and said the U.S. should "embrace emerging technologies like coal-to-liquid fuel."
"America has enough coal reserves to supply us for 300 years at current consumption," Huntsman said, criticizing government regulators and litigants who he said have "attacked coal from every possible angle."