By Gram Slattery
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Republican presidential contender Ron DeSantis pledged on Wednesday to slow America’s transition to electric vehicles, repeal regulations related to environmental, social and governance considerations and dramatically ramp up domestic fossil fuel production if he were elected.
In a speech in Midland, Texas, a city in the heart of oil country, the Florida governor also said he would withdraw the U.S. from global agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change, while increasing production of crude, gas, coal and uranium on federal lands.
Taken as a whole, the plan represents a doubling down on pledges DeSantis and most of his Republican opponents have made on the campaign trail to jettison limits on fossil fuel production and consumption. While the Florida governor had acknowledged that human-induced climate change was real earlier in his career, he has since backed away from that position.
Oil and gas executives are among his top boosters and financial backers, and DeSantis has been meeting with donors this week throughout Texas to refill his campaign coffers.
Among those who have donated to DeSantis are Continental Resources founder Harold Hamm and Dan Eberhart, the head of Colorado-based oilfield services firm Canary.
“We will unleash American energy dominance as a way to stop inflation and achieve $2 gas in 2025,” DeSantis said on Wednesday. The average on Wednesday for U.S. retail gasoline was about $3.88 a gallon.
“We will reverse American decline by reversing Biden’s America last energy agenda, eliminating reliance on hostile nations for energy, and putting the economic interests of Americans before the radical left’s ideological agenda.”
DeSantis’ speech, which is meant to broadly lay out his energy policy, comes as his campaign is in need of a boost. The Florida governor has slid in the polls for months, and he now sits 37 points behind former President Donald Trump, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll.
According to the remarks and a factsheet released alongside the speech, DeSantis will “repeal Biden’s EV mandates” and prevent “California and faceless bureaucrats from setting America’s environmental standards.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules that could result in as much as two-thirds of the new vehicle market shifting to EVs, or electric vehicles, by 2032. California is seeking to enforce its own, more stringent rules to reduce vehicle emissions, a plan opposed by congressional Republicans.
DeSantis’ plan calls on pensions and government accounts to eliminate environmental, social or governance considerations, known as ESG, from consideration when making investment considerations, a plan which tracks closely with moves he made as Florida governor.
In addition to expanding fossil fuel production, DeSantis called for significant investments in so-called critical minerals, including the creation of a Critical Mineral Strategic Reserve.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Additional reporting by Sabrina Valle, Richard Valdmanis and James Oliphant; editing by Timothy Gardner)