The Fuse

Carly Fiorina on Clean Coal, Energy Independence, and National Security

by The Fuse | June 10, 2015

Carly Fiorina is a Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race. The former CEO of Hewlett Packard, Fiorina was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate for California in 2010. All responses to this interview were provided over email by the Fiorina campaign.

THE FUSE: Given the changes we’re seeing in the global oil market, energy is forefront in the minds of the American people. Walk us through your energy policy platform. Where do you stand on the primary issues of the day, such as crude oil exports, the renewable fuels standard, the Keystone XL pipeline, federal regulations of hydraulic fracturing, and energy production on federal lands and waters.

FIORINA: On crude oil exports, I would lift the restriction on exporting oil to enable America to be energy independent.

Regarding the renewable fuels standard, it’s not the government’s job to determine market access. I support phasing out sugar, oil, and renewable fuels at the same time so that we’re not impinging on any one state or industry.

I support the Keystone Pipeline, and I believe it should be voted on by the representatives of the people. Of course, that has happened and it received overwhelming support. It’s President Obama who has decided that he is not moving ahead with it.

When it comes to federal regulations of hydraulic fracturing as well as oil and gas production on federal lands and waters: We’re limiting our ability to find resources by imposing regulations on hydraulic fracturing and our ability to be energy independent by regulating drilling on federal lands. As President I would roll back many of these regulations.

President Obama’s energy policies have been both supported and criticized by environmentalists, as well as the oil and gas industry. Some argue that his approach has been a compromise between both interests, while others have condemned his policies as highly inconsistent. Where have you agreed with the President on energy, and where have you disagreed?

Keystone is an obvious example of an area where we disagree. If the people of the United States didn’t want the pipeline, they had an opportunity to say no. But they didn’t—they said yes. The president said, “no.” The hypocrisy of President Obama’s veto of the Keystone Pipeline is that, what we’re doing today—shipping everything by rail—is worse for the environment than this pipeline.

As I understand it, the federal government has decided, through the EPA, basically to destroy the coal industry.

And then there’s the issue of coal under this President and an overzealous EPA. The industry has invested in clean coal, and I suspect that there is more investment that could be productive by the federal government. Basically all of that research has been shut down as I understand it, because the federal government has decided, through the EPA, basically to destroy the coal industry. They’re well on their way to doing that. In order to invest in clean coal, you need a healthy industry to make those investments, and you also need the federal government to do some of that basic research. There are some very basic things that the federal government could be helpful on. One of the things I always say when we get involved with the topic of climate change is the answer to this is innovation not regulation.

Earlier this year, you penned an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal, opposing an increase in the federal excise tax on gasoline. You present the argument that increasing the gasoline tax will fail to dampen consumption, because “gasoline is a necessity and will not see drastic declines in usage,” adding that “most families’ gas-related expenses are nonnegotiable.”

Given the historical volatility we’ve seen in oil and gasoline prices, do you see this dependence as an economic vulnerability? In your view, is it worthy of any policy intervention?

Being energy independent isn’t some distant hypothetical.

Our dependence on gas-related expenses and gasoline is definitely an economic vulnerability for a lot of families struggling in this economy. The answer to this issue is not increased regulation, but rather rolling back regulations and encouraging innovation to make America energy independent. Being energy independent isn’t some distant hypothetical. We can be energy independent almost any time we want in the sense that most of the constraints are self-imposed. We shouldn’t be irresponsible with safety or conservation, but we must stop limiting our ability to find resources. I would therefore lift the restriction on exporting oil, lift many of the regulations that are now preventing us from investing in clean coal technology, and roll back a lot of the regulation that is killing the coal industry. Of course, I would also roll back a lot of the regulations on fracking and natural gas.

Energy and national security have always been linked. As president, how would you use domestic energy policy to support the country’s foreign policy objectives?

Despite the fact that Obama has told us that he came up with this groundbreaking climate change agreement with China, we know that, as usual, it was all smoke and mirrors.

China burns a tremendous amount of coal and will continue to do so. Despite the fact that Obama has told us that he came up with this groundbreaking climate change agreement with China, we know that, as usual, it was all smoke and mirrors. What China did was restate the goals they already had in their five-year plans as their new plan for 2025. The Chinese will therefore be burning a lot of coal for a long time—but, at some point, they also know that they have to take their air quality problem seriously and that they have to reduce their burning of coal. They’re just not prepared to do it yet.

This is a perfect opportunity for America to demonstrate its leadership in innovation. If we were investing in clean coal technology and achieved some level of progress and breakthrough, we could be exporting that technology to China. We could help them solve a problem, but we could also develop a competitive advantage and help our own economy. This is a better, more productive answer than shutting down our own coal plants while the Chinese continue to burn coal at tremendous rates. It destroys our coal mining community, it’s bad for our economy, and it doesn’t allow us to invest in the technology that ultimately could make a difference in climate change by having a positive impact on China’s coal burning industry.

You served as CEO of Hewlett-Packard for six years. Can you tell us about the events you experienced during that time that have shaped your perspective on energy and innovation?

We need a president who understands technology and the power of innovation.

We need a president who understands technology and the power of innovation. Leading a company as a large and complex as HP was about being a leader in innovation. When I started as CEO, we were the market laggard in every category and within 5 years, we had tripled innovation to 11 patents a day, doubled revenues, and were a market leader in every product category. We need innovation to solve our energy problems, not regulation.

Do you have any final thoughts on the current American energy landscape?

It is very important that we take steps to make our nation energy independent. We have the tools and resources to do it. As with climate change, the answer to this problem is innovation, not regulation. Instead of hurting American communities and losing American jobs through increased regulation, we should invest in innovative solutions to solve the problem.