Who is Mike Pence and where does he stand on energy issues?

Mike Pence
Republican VP candidate Mike Pence, left, with Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters.

Expect Mike Pence to be articulate and forceful in his defense of the American energy industry

Donald Trump has a running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. The 57-year old lawyer is an interesting blend of energy ideologue and pragmatist who might help shore up Trump with moderate Republican voters.

Mike Pence
Indian Gov. Mike Pence. Photo: Facebook.

No one will confuse Pence with Bernie Sanders (or even Hillary Clinton) when it comes to climate and energy. You can read about Pence’s background in this NAEN story.

“Governor Pence is a friend to coal and fossil fuels,” said energy economist Ed Hirs in an email.

“He is the governor of the eighth largest coal-producing state and has stated that Indiana will not comply with the Clean Power Plan.  He is a climate change skeptic who has been looking after the interests of his state’s constituents.”

Last month in an Indystar.com editorial, Pence also took aim at the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

“Through its proposed anti-coal regulations mandating reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, the Obama administration has taken a clear shot at Indiana, the nation’s top manufacturing state and a national leader in private sector job growth,” Pence wrote.

“Not that this should come as any surprise. The President has made it clear in past public comments that he is anti-coal and believes that skyrocketing energy prices are a sacrifice Americans should make in the interest of his agenda.”

mike pence
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But as Hirs points out, Pence has a bit of a green tinge to his energy positions: “Apart from his rhetoric and defense of coal, Governor Pence backs bio-fuels produced by Indiana’s farmers while the state has also promoted geothermal, wind, and solar energy with state-specific tax breaks.”

Before winning the gubernatorial race in 2013, Pence spent six terms in the House of Representatives, beginning in 2001. Here is a summary of his voting record, courtesy of ontheissues.org:

  • Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy
  • Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel
  • Voted NO on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC
  • Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies
  • Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore
  • Voted YES on authorizing construction of new oil refineries
  • Voted YES on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy
  • Voted NO on raising CAFE (combined corporate average fuel efficiency) standards; incentives for alternative fuels
  • Voted NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
  • Signed the No Climate Tax Pledge: “I pledge to the taxpayers of my state, and to the American people, that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
  • No EPA regulation of greenhouse gases
  • Drill the Outer Continental Shelf
  • License new nuclear plants
  • Set goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025

A year before he became Indiana governor, Pence said he was in favor of an “all of the above” energy strategy, including nuclear power.

mike pence
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“When you look at much of the industrialized world today, the technology and the safety record of nuclear energy is one that I think Hoosiers ought to be willing to look at, in addition to developing all of our traditional sources of energy and our renewable sources of energy,” Pence said, as reported by nwi.com.

Indiana is the only Midwestern state without a nuclear power plant.

So, what does Pence bring to the Trump ticket?

A clear Republican voting record on energy issues, but with just enough support for renewable energy not to offend the true believers while appealing to conservative solar, wind, and biofuel proponents. There are more of these than one might think, especially in agricultural states that depend heavily on federal ethanol mandates.

Pence’s positions are in line with the policy outlined by Trump in his May energy speech in Bismark, North Dakota. Pence will definitely have a firmer grasp of energy issues than the presumptive Republican presidential candidate has demonstrated so far, which he’ll need to counter the Obama track record that includes heavy oil and gas regulations, anti-fossil fuel rhetoric, and support for renewable energy.

But Clinton is likely to point out that a Democrat president oversaw the “American energy renaissance,” as the rapid expansion of shale oil and gas is often called.

Pence is no Sara Palin. Expect him to be articulate and forceful in his defense of the energy industry.


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