Gov. Perry credits Mitchell, free market for Texas energy boom

DALLAS — Speaking at an energy summit at the Bush Institute Thursday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry credited legendary oilman  George Mitchell  and the free market with creating the state’s energy boom, which helped Texas sustain a healthy economy in recent years as the nation plunged into an economic recession.

Perry said the state’s government played a role by not creating regulations that could slow down the surge in oil and natural gas production.

“I give the credit to the private sector, with the assistance of the (state) government not getting in the way,” Perry said during the Bush Institute event. “In our state, we have put good, smart regulations in place.”

He also mentioned the contribution of Mitchell, often called the “father of fracking”. Mitchell, who died in July, is heralded for spurring the use of hydraulic fracturing to tap hard-to-reach natural gas in dense shale rock, prompting the nation’s “shale gale”.

Former President George W. Bush introduced Perry — calling him “my pal” — and the rest of the panel, including Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Canada’s Finance Minister  James Flaherty, Mexico’s former Energy Secretary Jordy Herrera and former Vermont Gov. James Douglas.

Addressing the conference audience, Bush said that what’s at issue is how to best harness energy for the “common good in a reasonable way.”

“The question is: Can these energy sources be exploited in safe and sound ways?” he asked. “That’s what the debate is about. … We at the Bush Center think so.”

The conference at the George W. Bush Institute, part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center that includes his presidential library and museum, included panel discussions on topics ranging from coal regulation to how environmentally friendly policies and growth policies can go hand-in-hand.

The conference was billed on the institute’s website as “a bold effort to determine the cost that misguided regulation imposes on growth.”

Flaherty said he’s disappointed that the U.S. has not yet approved the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada to Texas. A final report is expected to be issued by the U.S. State Department later this year on whether the project should move forward. Supporters say it would create jobs, while environmentalists have urged the department to reject it.

Perry said that allowing private sector investment in the energy industry in Mexico and the development of the Keystone pipeline would be important developments.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has proposed opening the state-owned oil company, Pemex, to private investment.

The Bush Center is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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