Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) acknowledges human activity contributes to climate change but cautioned against actions that would harm the U.S. economy. In written answers to Bloomberg BNA, Bush said the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is “irresponsible and ineffective” and “oversteps state authority.” He also tells Bloomberg BNA reporter Anthony Adragna that phasing out the renewable fuel standard “over time” is the “proper thing to do.” Bush, who served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, also called approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline a “no brainer.” Bloomberg BNA has reached out to all presidential campaigns and will publish other substantive responses in the days ahead.
Bloomberg BNA: Is climate change occurring? If so, does human activity significantly contribute to it?
Bush: The climate is changing; I don’t think anybody can argue it’s not. Human activity has contributed to it. I think we have a responsibility to adapt to what the possibilities are without destroying our economy, without hollowing out our industrial core.
I think it’s appropriate to recognize this and invest in the proper research to find solutions over the long haul but not be alarmists about it. We should not say the end is near, not deindustrialize the country, not create barriers for higher growth, not just totally obliterate family budgets, which some on the left advocate by saying we should raise the price of energy so high that renewables then become viable.
U.S. emissions of greenhouse gasses are down to the same levels emitted in the mid-1990s, even though we have 50 million more people. A big reason for this success is the energy revolution which was created by American ingenuity—not federal regulations.
Bloomberg BNA: Should the Keystone XL pipeline be approved?
Bush: Yes. Construction of the Keystone pipeline is a no brainer. It moves us toward energy independence and creates jobs. The President’s politically motivated veto of the pipeline is an example of how this administration supports policies that suppress economic growth.
Bloomberg BNA: Do you support the renewable fuel standard?
Bush: The law that was passed in 2007 has worked, look at the increase in production. It has been a benefit to us as we’ve reduced our dependency on foreign sources of oil. We need to level the playing field for all sources of energy. As we move forward over the long haul, there should be certainty for people to invest and we ought to continue to innovate to create the lowest cost energy sources in the world. Ultimately if you can compete in an open market place, then you’ll thrive; we need to make sure there is market access. I do think that phasing out, getting to a place where we don’t pick winners and losers and we don’t create mandates, over time, is the proper thing to do. 2022 is the law and is probably the good break point.
Bloomberg BNA: What role should renewable energies, including solar and wind, play in our domestic energy supply?
Bush: I support an approach that uses diverse sources—such as wind, solar, other renewables, nuclear, natural gas and coal—for this country’s energy needs. Power generation should reflect, as much as possible, the diverse attributes and needs of states and their citizens. The federal government should not be dictating what types of power should be used where. It should not be picking winners and losers.
Bloomberg BNA: Do you support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan? What should the next step be for states?
Bush: Obama’s carbon rule is irresponsible and ineffective. First, it does virtually nothing to address the risk of climate change. Second, it oversteps state authority. Third, EPA has gone far beyond its statutory authority, regulating how people consume energy. Fourth, it threatens the reliability of the electricity grid. Finally, as proposed, it will unnecessarily increase energy costs on hard-working families and will cause job losses in many states.
Bloomberg BNA: How do you view actions taken by President Barack Obama’s EPA? Is that agency acting within its authority as envisioned by Congress?
Bush: The Obama EPA seems intent on pushing its authority beyond legal limits. The culture of Washington is so bad that even when it’s discovered that the EPA initiated a lobbying campaign on behalf of the rules it sought to propagate, nobody batted an eyelash. A government that lobbies for its own expansion is a government that is out of control—and I intend to change that.
Bloomberg BNA: Are there any other energy and environmental issues of particular concern in your campaign?
Bush: Generally, I think as conservatives we should embrace innovation, embrace technology, embrace science. It's the source of a lot more solutions than any government-imposed idea and sometimes I sense that we pull back from the embrace of these things. We shouldn't. We're the party that should be the party of discovery, the party of science, the party of innovation and tear down the barriers so that those things can accelerate in our lives to find solutions for all these things. For example, with North American resources and American ingenuity we can finally achieve energy security for this nation—and with presidential leadership, we can make it happen within five years.
Economic growth leads to environmental protection. As the governor of Florida I achieved 4.4% percent economic growth while forging an historic 50/50 state-federal partnership to save the Everglades: the world’s largest intergovernmental watershed restoration effort. I spearheaded “Florida Forever,” the largest collaborative land protection program in the country. We collaboratively acquired over 1 million acres of land, including critical habitat, ecological greenways, recreational trails and fragile coastline. These actions protected 190 rare and endangered species and 700 historic sites.
Instead of saying how bad that things are, I think we should be celebrating the potential to reindustrialize the country, to lower prices for consumers and create higher wage jobs, to use natural gas and to give the middle class the best deal in terms of lower utility prices and lower gasoline prices.
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