Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) is a first-term Senator from North Dakota. Formerly governor of North Dakota for ten years, he is one of the Senate’s most avid supporters of a reformed, “all of the above” energy strategy for America. He sat down with me this morning to discuss a variety of aspects of energy policy as well as the Supreme Court’s decision this morning on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.
Dustin Siggins: First and foremost, can I get a reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, related to upholding the individual mandate as a tax and its relation to the future of contract law in America?
Senator John Hoeven: The Supreme Court has confirmed it is a tax. It Is government-run health care, and a tax on the American people. They [the American people] don’t want either one. This makes it even more clear that we need a market-based, step-by-step approach. We need reforms that make health insurance and health care more available and more affordable. This includes insurance across state lines, expanded health savings accounts, more affordable high-deductible policies, tort reform…the kind of reforms that create the right incentives to lower costs in Medicare and Medicaid. We need to cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse.
DS: What three major policies would maximize America’s energy resources?
Sen. Hoeven: Well, we need to truly develop all of our energy resources. This Administration talks about “all of the above,” but not only are they not doing it, they are preventing it with regulations that are stymieing energy development in this country. Whether it’s blocking drilling, or the regulations that are in essence blocking almost any fossil fuel development – what we need to do is set up the right incentives and stimulus to encourage traditional and renewable investments by the private sector. We need to reduce the regulatory burden. The result is more energy and more jobs and less foreign dependence. That’s what we did in North Dakota.
DS: If these policies were in place, how would they affect the following areas of national concern: reducing the deficit via tax revenues, getting people back to work, national security, and helping use environmental resources more efficiently?
Sen. Hoeven: It would be millions of jobs, hundreds of billions in terms of investments. In five to seven years we could be at what I call energy security, which means we are producing more energy than we consume. No more relying on Venezuela and the Middle East. There are many numbers on each one of these aspects of a better energy policy.
DS: Why is North Dakota rising so quickly with regards to production when Alaska is going down? Is it the federal regulatory state harming Alaska, or is it North Dakota’s internal policies that are attracting business?
Sen. Hoeven: In North Dakota we built a legal and tax regulatory environment to encourage investment. It helped the environment. It’s what we need to do as a country. Alaska is overregulated by the federal government, and it’s hurt the state and the country.
DS: Do you support subsidies of any energy industries, including oil, ethanol, etc.? Why or why not?
Sen. Hoeven: We have to develop all of our energy resources, and we need to get to a market-based approach. Some pieces we need to transition to a market-based approach, but everything should be market-based.
DS: But do you support elimination of subsidies?
Sen. Hoeven: That’s what I mean by transitioning out – ethanol biofuels are a good example. We have higher blend allowances and the like that are market-based and there is no government cost. They give more people more choice, and provide a greater supply, which lowers cost.
DS: Obviously there are subsidies for EXCLUSIVELY for energy companies, and there are subsidies/tax credits for companies in certain areas (research and development, for example) that INCLUDE energy companies. Do you support tax credits for these overarching credits/subsidies?
Sen. Hoeven: I’d have to see specifically what R&D credits you are talking about, but I think in general R&D research is something the government can be involved in. Basic R&D is fine, but you’re not out there picking winners and losers. As far as deployment, they should be market-based solutions. I think that’s always been the case in this country, through the university system, that sort of thing.
DS: What is a reasonable expectation for reduction in the prices of oil, gas, etc. if we use our natural resources efficiently?
Sen. Hoeven: That’s hard to quantify. It depends on the U.S. economy and the world economy. With more supply we can lower prices. I know it will be lower if we produce more energy.
DS: I read a lot of liberal blogs, and some of them are saying Republicans blamed President Obama for higher gas prices without giving him credit for their recent drop. How do you respond to this?
Sen. Hoeven: It’s the economy. Our economy is struggling to come out of the recession because of Obama’s policies. The economy is hurting across the world, so we have weaker demand. Gas prices are almost double what they were when the President came into office. They are down from the peak, but they are higher than what they were when he took office. He has failed with regards to his energy polices, and a small decline in prices doesn’t change that.
[Originally posted in the HotAir.com Green Room.]