A litany of topics is expected for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference: taxes, the economy, immigration, abortion, marriage and more. But environmentalism? No way.
Presidential contender and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a few words about saving the environment during his CPAC speech Friday. Candidates often balk at the questions on climate change and simply bash the EPA for killing jobs, but Perry did something different when the moderator posed the climate change question. He pointed to Texas’ record.
He made the argument that though Texas added 5.6 million people to its population and 1.4 million jobs in the last seven years, they have also managed to be environmentally friendly.
“During that same period of time, using thoughtful and incentive-based regulations, we reduced our carbon monoxide levels, which by the way, is a real pollutant,” he said. “Nitrous Oxide levels were down by 16.2 percent, ozone levels down by 15 percent, and our CO2 levels were down–whether you believe in this whole concept of climate change or not–CO2 levels were down by 9 percent in that state.”
Perry advocated passing Keystone, but continued to tout Texas’ environmentalist efforts, something not normally associated with the Lone Star State.
“We put policies in place that helped remove old, dirty, burning diesel engines from the fleets,” he said. ”We were able to transition our electrical power system into natural gas burning. That ought to be our goal in this country, and it all starts with energy policy.”
Besides the environmental bit, the speech featured Perry as a ghost of his former self.
Last year at the annual conservative conference, Perry delivered a fiery speech that brought the crowd to its feet. He was a rising star. Perry spoke with confidence, swagger even, and seemed like a man bent on a 2016 presidential run.
“It’s time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas,” he told raucus attendees.
My, how things have changed.
Perry was trying to garner favor Friday from a conservative base, a group that has clung to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in recent days, with a speech that will largely go unnoticed.
In the continuous media discussions of Republican presidential contenders, Perry’s name has been omitted in favor of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul. Though Perry has certainly not declared a presidential run, he undoubtedly seems intent on being more present in the conversation of Republican heavyweights.
In the rest of his speech, Perry criticized Obama’s foreign policy failings. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin saw America’s weakness and that emboldened him to become aggressive against Ukraine.
“First, our country has entered a time of testing and our political leadership is failing the test,” he told the crowd. ”There are no real consequences when dictators and adversaries defy America and this must change.”
Perry criticized the president’s deal with Iran, citing concerns over the country gaining access to nuclear weapons. He addressed IS, emphasizing the threat the group poses in one of his speech’s high points.
“ISIS represents the worst threat to freedom since communism,” he said.