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Vice President Pence Lauds Ohio Energy, Slams Democratic Policies As 'Socialist'

Vice President Mike Pence speaking at a meeting of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association in Columbus on March 8, 2019. [Nick Evans / WOSU]
Vice President Mike Pence speaking at a meeting of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association in Columbus on March 8, 2019.

Vice President Mike Pence visited the Ohio Oil And Gas annual meeting Friday to talk about the administration’s effort to expand energy production, and defend the administration’s national emergency declaration.

At the Columbus event, Pence told the state’s oil and natural gas producers that their work is integral to the Trump administration's energy goals worldwide.

“Work with one another, compete with one another,” Pence urged attendees. “And stay on this fast track to American—not just American energy independence, but as the president said, American energy dominance, because I know Ohio’s going to lead the way.”

Pence pointed out the growth of natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin of Ohio, West Virgnia and Pennsylvania, noting the region’s production has grown from making 2 percent of U.S. output to 27 percent in about a decade.  

In terms of how that production fits internationally, Pence highlighted a series of natural gas deals with Poland. The contracts will bring Poland imports to 7 billion cubic meters a year, or about 1 percent of U.S. production in 2017.

“Our ally in Poland is benefiting by your innovation, and American jobs are benefiting by your export," Pence said. "Your work is not only strengthening economic opportunities here at home, it’s strengthening the ties that bind us to freedom loving nations around the world.”

The Polish government, led by Andrzej Duda, has been friendly with the Trump administration, and the move represents a shift away from reliance on energy produced by Russia. But the country’s ruling party has also come under fire for attempting to purge Poland’s Supreme Court.

But Pence didn’t limit his comments to energy policy. He dismissed Democratic policies like "Medicare for All" and the "Green New Deal" as socialism.

“The truth is what 'Medicare For All' really means is quality health care for none, and the only thing green about the 'Green New Deal' is how much green it’s going to cost all of us if they ever pass it,” Pence said, returning to a jab he’s been trying out in recent weeks.

He also lobbied for Trump’s national emergency declaration to divert money toward a long-promised border wall. Pence urged the U.S. Senate, and Democrat Sherrod Brown in particular, to vote against a resolution that would reverse the president’s declaration. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has also expressed concerns about the declaration, but hasn't indicated how he'll vote.

The U.S. House passed the resolution last week and Senate leaders expect to vote on it by March 18. Copyright 2019 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.