Speaking before local residents Wednesday, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said fully exploiting America's oil and natural gas reserves could be a silver bullet.
Gingrich said the U.S. could strengthen its foreign policy, spur an economic recovery, reduce gasoline prices to $2 to $2.50 a gallon and eventually help American pay off its national debt, if it takes steps to become energy independent.
Gingrich spoke of the vast oil reserves in North Dakota's Bakken rock formation, which has 25 times more oil than originally expected, as well as natural gas reserves in rock formations and offshore, which Gingrich said could last 125 years.
"Nobody in Washington understands this and very few people in the news media understand this. These two facts, North Dakota and shale gas, these two facts indicate that if we were to go all out in developing American oil and American gas offshore, on federal lands, we would become very rapidly the number one oil producing country in the world again," said Gingrich, who spoke at the gym of Peachtree Academy's Covington campus.
"I have a very simple goal. That would mean that no American president would ever again bow to a Saudi King."
Expected to focus exclusively on gasoline prices, Gingrich spent the first half of his nearly 18-minute speech skewering Obama's handling of recent foreign policy issues, but he brought the speech full circle back to gasoline.
He criticized Obama for apologizing to Afghans after U.S. marines burned Qurans, the Muslim holy book, disposing of them by throwing them into a fire pit last week. Gingrich said Obama should have examined the situation and realized that the Marines were burning books that had already been defaced by Muslim prisoners and were being used to pass written messages back and forth. Writing in the Quran is forbidden in Islam.
"We need a commitment to an American foreign policy that follows American interests that isn't trapped in various international attitudes and international biases. I believe when a president, as commander in chief, apologizes at a time when young Americans are being killed that there is something profoundly wrong," Gingrich said. "But I also think this most recent incident is a very good moment to take a deep breath and say you know, maybe we beter have a national conservation about our entire foreign policy."
"We should have called on good Muslims to join us in condemning defacing the Quran by these people who are extremists, but nobody is prepared to stand up and make the arguments. We're not prepared to say we're not a bad people. We do not go around capriciously doing bad things."
Gingrich said churches are burned in Nigeria, Egypt and Malaysia and a Christian minister is sentenced to death in Iran after converting from Islam, yet no one apologizes for such actions.
"But you all know the dirty little secret. The reason we can't tell the truth to the Saudis is we rely on them for oil. So I am in favor as a matter of national security of having an American energy plan making us independent of the Middle East by producing oil and gas in the U.S.," Gingrich said.
By fully exploiting oil and natural gas reserves in the U.S., Gingrich said the U.S. could create more than a million new jobs, save $500 billion in revenue being sent overseas and generate $16 to $18 trillion in royalties from allowing federal land and offshore seas to be drilled.
"(The royalties) would actually come in the next generation to somewhere between $16 and $18 trillion...about as much as the national debt. So if you sequestered it over here and balanced the budget you could use the oil and gas royalties to actually pay off the national debt," he said.
"So, in one strategy, you quit bowing to the Saudis and you quit bowing to the Chinese. Because you buy back your debt with the money that used to go to the Saudis."
In addition, Gingrich said such a strategy would reduce gas prices below $2.50 a gallon, as opposed to the $5 to $6 a gallon prices he said would come with another Obama term. Such price increases would lead to another economic recession, he said.
Gingrich called on all of his supporters to write "Newt = $2.50 a gallon" on their Facebook page, to use the Twitter hashtag #250gas and to donate how ever many "Newt gallons" (a $2.50 donation) they can. For those skeptical of his plan, Gingrich invited people to view his 30-minute video on newt.org explaining his energy plan.
"Would you rather have food stamps and dependency or would you rather come with Newt and have a job and paychecks?" Gingrich said.
"I believe with your help we can give these young people a dramatically better future. This is the most important election in your lifetime. Four more years of Barack Obama is going to give these young people a much worse future. So if you will help me, I am pretty confident that I am the one candidate that can stand up on a stage and debate Barack Obama. I think together we can change history."