Perry, Jindal, Santorum Advocate for Energy Jobs in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Three potential Republican candidates for the White House in 2016 had a similar message for Iowans on energy and the economy Thursday: Less regulation means more jobs, more jobs lead to a better economy, and a better economy will create a better environment.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum all spoke to a crowd at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in downtown Des Moines Friday, as part of InsideSources' "Road to 2016: Informing the Energy Debate" forum. The topics, not surprisingly, centered around energy resources, the jobs it creates, and the federal government's role in advancing a cleaner environment.

Governor Perry, who made a run for president in 2012, often cited his home state of Texas as an example of energy jobs in America. The governor said, in the political arena, the debate doesn't have to be "economy versus environment," but can be both. He also said he'd rather tap into North American energy resources than rely on Russia and the Middle East.

"This surge in oil and gas production, it allows us the opportunity to reshape the global economy, eliminating our dependence on states that control massive sources of energy," he said. "Canada, the United States, and Mexico: A region that has more natural resources, known reserves, than Saudi Arabia. And I'm pretty sure I would rather have my friends in Canada, or in Mexico, for that matter, that I can rely upon for energy resources, rather than Venezuela, or some of these Middle Eastern countries that don't particularly have our best interest in mind."

Governor Jindal repeated many of Governor Perry's sentiments on the issues, claiming the U.S.'s has potential to be an energy powerhouse - both in fossil fuels and green energy - if regulations weren't in the way.

"What if I were to tell you that there's a country out there that has more oil, natural gas, and coal combined, than any other country in the world? That would be a pretty powerful country. What I told you that same country had the most advanced renewable fuel technology, compared to any other country in the world? When it comes to biofuels, and wind, and solar. That'd be a pretty powerful country. Well the great news is, I'm not talking about China. I'm not talking about Saudi Arabia. I'm talking about the United States of America," he said.

Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2012 and is widely-known for traveling all of the state's 99 counties, called for more support in the coal industry, as well as ethanol.

"But I know, when I traveled around Iowa, the poorest counties in Iowa are not Polk County. Not Scott County, not Story County. Not Dubuque. They're Adams County, they're up in Keokuk, down in Lee County. Those are the areas that are rural, small town, industrial and struggling. And it's the same as it is in Pennsylvania," he said.

None of the speakers Thursday touched on the Renewable Fuel Standard - something Governor Terry Branstad has called on all potential 2016 candidates to endorse - but Rick Santorum has expressed support for the initiative in the past.