Tim Pawlenty: Obama "sat on his hands" on drilling

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 13: Former Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty listens to his introduction during an appearance at the National Press Club to speak about his memoir 'Courage to Stand: An American Story' January 13, 2011 in Washington, DC. Pawlenty, mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate for the 2012 election, also took questions following his address.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty blasted President Obama on his energy policy on Monday, arguing that the president has "sat on his hands as it relates to drilling."

In an interview with Chicago's "Don Wade & Roma" radio show, Pawlenty, who announced a presidential exploratory committee last month, argued that Mr. Obama was not interested in Americanizing the country's energy sources.

"We've got a country that's got some enormous energy assets that are not being exploited or leveraged to the benefit of our country and to our people," Pawlenty said.

"If you look at the Democratic party and what [Mr. Obama] believes, they're mostly beholden to what I would consider to be militant or unreasonable environmentalists," Pawlenty added. "Of course we have to be protective of the environment, but at the same time we've got to meet this country's energy needs."

Pawlenty argued for increased excavation of natural gas, as well as drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

"I support drilling in ANWR, I support drilling offshore, in ways and places that are appropriate," Pawlenty said. "And this is a country that needs to get much more serious about Americanizing our energy sources and doing everything we can to develop our own energy here and add more supply."

In a press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated the president's goal of boosting investment in clean energy and reducing American dependence on foreign oil - but he emphasized that providing oil and gas companies with tax incentives was not the way to do that.

"Major oil-and-gas companies are going to report this week significant if not record profits," Carney told reporters during the briefing. "Given the constraints that we are under, given the need to tighten our belts, given the need to reduce the deficit, this president feels very strongly that it is inappropriate to continue those subsidies."

"I think most Americans would agree with the president that it is simply crazy and unsustainable to continue to subsidize the oil-and-gas companies when we need to reduce our deficit and invest elsewhere," he added.