John Edwards on election night 2011. Photo by Jeanna Duerscherl | The Roanoke Times
President Barack Obama
Updated with Republican response at 4:09 p.m.:
President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has been working in Virginia since last April, and it hit Roanoke today with a news conference in city hall with Virginia Sen. John Edwards.
Edwards stumped for Obama on the subject of energy, gesturing to two campaign-produced charts, one showing that domestic oil production has grown every year since 2008 and the other showing that the amount of foreign oil used in the country has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in years.
Edwards said Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine support an “all of the above” energy policy, while saying that Republicans — naming U.S. Senate candidate George Allen and GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney in particular — only want to “Drill, baby, drill.”
“Taxpayer subsidies to big oil and the gas companies make no sense at a time when the big oil companies are making record profits — profits larger than they’ve ever made before,” Edwards said. “These guys are cashing in when consumers are paying more at the pump. And every time gas prices go up one penny, the five biggest oil companies pocket another $200 million.”
Edwards said he, Kaine and Obama support removing those oil subsidies and investing that money into research and development of “clean,” renewable energy sources.
Edwards was asked about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emissions limits, which some argue will hurt the coal industry. And I asked about last week’s court decision ruling the EPA overstepped its authority on the Spruce Mine project in West Virginia.
“I think Americans want to have a clean environment,” Edwards responded. “They won’t a strong EPA. Let’s not make the EPA the whipping boy.”
I also asked about rising tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Iran and Israel, as a potential factor in rising gas prices. What — if any — role should the United States play there?
“There’s going to be international tension,” Edwards said. “This is not new. Someone said if we had done what Jimmy Carter wanted to do, we wouldn’t have a problem today. These tensions are coming and going as part of history. I don’t think there’s a silver bullet there at all.
“You obviously want to make sure our diplomacy is working, but you’ve also got to prepare for the time when oil may be cut off from the Mid-East. That’s why we need to have more domestic production, which the president is doing, as well as become more efficient in the use of energy and more clean technology to protect our environment. You need to do it all.”
Meanwhile, Obama also gave some remarks on the issue of oil and gas subsidies at the White House today. You can find the full text of those comments after the jump.
UPDATE: The Republican Party of Virginia responded this afternoon to the news conference.
Statement from RPV Chairman Pat Mullins:
“I have to give President Obama and Sen. Edwards credit: it’s hard to put two ideas this bad into the same package, but they’ve managed to do it.
“Barack Obama and Tim Kaine are crowing about higher oil production, but they leave out the fact that production is DOWN on Federal lands, where the government has director control. And they seem to like that trend. Raising taxes on domestic oil companies lowers domestic oil production. We know because it’s been done before, by Jimmy Carter. And it drove up our dependence on foreign oil. Does anyone think a repeat of Carter-era energy policies are a good idea?
“As for more “green investments,” we’ve seen what happens to those. Solyndra and a number of other “investments” made by the administration have flamed out in spectacular fashion, leaving taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars — and key Obama donors with millions in their pockets. What do President Obama, Tim Kaine and John Edwards want to do? Hand out even more money.
“Like I said, the Obama-Kaine plan of raising taxes on oil while spending more on Solyndra-style boondoggles isn’t just a bad idea, it’s a flock of bad ideas flying in formation. Virginians remember the Carter administration, and they sure don’t want to go back.”
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