|Copyright 2015, The Associated Press|
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The United States should end its ban on crude-oil exports and reduce federal regulations that are stifling an energy industry central to the nation's future economic prosperity, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday to a friendly group of mostly oil and natural gas producers.
The GOP presidential hopeful from Florida unveiled some highlights of his domestic energy policies at a meeting with members of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association in Oklahoma City.
"I believe that energy independence and energy innovation is one of the most transformative developments that America has ever seen in its history, if properly harnessed," Rubio said. "Yet despite its importance, our outdated government continues to make energy one of the most politicized and regulated aspects of our entire economy."
Rubio said the ban on crude-oil exports is a throwback to the 1970s, long before a domestic oil production boom that resulted from industry advances like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Lifting the ban, Rubio said, "will strengthen our national security interests by stabilizing global energy markets and reducing the leverage of anti-American, oil-rich governments."
Rubio also bemoaned the regulatory influence of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and said if elected president, he would immediately push to end the agency's Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing power plant carbon emissions.
"As president, I will immediately stop this massive regulation," Rubio said.
Finally, Rubio said he would leave energy regulations up to individual states, which he said are in a better position to impose them.
Patrice Douglas, a former member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which oversees oil and gas production, utilities and other industries in Oklahoma, said rising utility costs are largely the result of mandates imposed by federal regulators like the EPA.
"State regulators understand what's going on in their states above the ground and under the ground," Douglas said. "I think state regulators are more well-suited to that kind of regulation. We can tailor what we need to meet the needs of Oklahomans."
Christine Freundlich, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, described Rubio as a "puppet to Big Oil" and said his energy plan would move the country backward.
"An oil- and gas-focused energy plan that weakens environmental protections is not a modern plan — it's a plan written and bankrolled by Big Oil for an outdated candidate like Marco Rubio," Freundlich said in a statement.
Before Rubio's speech to the OIPA, he attended a couple of private fundraisers and toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which is dedicated to the 168 people killed on April 19, 1995, when a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.