WASHINGTON -- Presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry released his economic plan Friday, promising that an energy-centric program to expand offshore drilling and domestic oil and gas exploration would create 1.2 million jobs.
Perry, who spoke at a suburban Pittsburgh steel mill before a hard-hat-wearing crowd, said he would move to open federal lands to drilling, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and curtail the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers.
It was Perry's first detailed economic program since he announced Aug. 13 that he is running for president, and it came as he's dropped dramatically in the polls, moving from front-runner to second-tier status.
"The plan I present this morning, Energizing American Jobs and Security, will kick-start economic growth and create 1.2 million jobs," he said.
Saying the premise for his plan is "Make what Americans buy, buy what Americans make and sell it to the world," Perry said, "We are standing atop the next American economic boom ... energy."
"The quickest way to give our economy a shot in the arm is to deploy American ingenuity to tap American energy. But we can only do that if environmental bureaucrats are told to stand down," he said.
"America has proven but untapped supplies of natural gas, oil and coal. America is the Saudi Arabia of coal, with 25 percent of the world's supply. Our country contains up to 134 billion barrels of oil and nearly 1.2 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas."
Perry's energy proposal drew fire from President Barack Obama's campaign and environmental groups.
"Gov. Perry's energy policy isn't the way to win the future, it's straight out of the past -- doubling down on finite resources with no plan to promote innovation or to transition the nation to a clean energy economy," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said.
Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said Perry's plan "ignores a clean tech future while returning to a fossil fuel past. ... The Perry plan should be stamped 'Made By Big Oil.'"
Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna said Perry "wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and run the federal government like he runs Texas."
Maria Recio is the Star-Telegram's Washington bureau chief.