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Perry calls for creating jobs through energy production

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, at a steel plant outside Pittsburgh, has laid out his energy plan that would expand oil and gas exploration, curb regulation, and create jobs. NBC's Carrie Dann reports.

WEST MIFFLIN, PA -- Seeking to refocus his campaign after a month of controversies and shaky debate performances, Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited a cavernous steel plant outside of Pittsburgh Friday to unveil his plan for job creation through reform of the energy industry.

Speaking here at U.S. Steel's Irvin plant, Perry said that his proposal -- which would open protected land for oil and natural gas production as well as lift federal regulations on the energy sector -- will create 1.2 million jobs.

"Today, I offer a plan that will create more than a million good American jobs across every sector of the economy and enhance our national security. And the best news is it can be set in motion in my first 100 days," he told a crowd of hard-hat-wearing steelworkers.

The lands opened for new energy exploration under Perry's plan would include the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, although the governor noted that states should have input in which parts of their land are preserved from new drilling. His proposal would also undo the Environmental Protection Agency's "draconian" authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and it would eliminate federal subsidies for industry sectors such as ethanol and oil and gas production.

Those changes, he said, would "revitalize American manufacturing" and have ripple effects throughout the rest of the US economy as well.

The slogan of the rollout: "Make what Americans buy. Buy what Americans make. And sell it to the world."

Perry says that his plan, which would rely on executive orders and other action directly from the White House for its implementation, would avoid the procedural gridlock of passage through Congress. And he argues that advancements in research and development, as well as market incentives, would keep the enhanced energy production from harming the global environment. 

"I do not accept the premise, I do not accept the choice, that we must pick between energy and the environment."

In his remarks, Perry had harsh words for environmental "activists" who have lobbied the White House to limit new energy production. 

"President Obama would keep us more dependent on hostile sources of foreign energy, while my plan would make us more secure by tapping America's true energy potential," Perry said. "His energy policies are driven by the concerns of activists in his party. My policies are driven by the concerns of American workers without jobs."

"Creating jobs in America is as simple as changing presidents," he added.

The steel plant speech was the first in a series of policy proposals that Perry is expected to unveil in the coming weeks. The next stage of the rollout will be an address on taxes and the deficit, advisers said.