Republican candidate Rick Perry says he would be able to use executive power as president to make sweeping changes in federal energy policy changes. Perry gave an energy policy speech in Pennsylvania today, then called into a talk-radio program in Iowa shortly afterwards.

“This plan that I laid out doesn’t need congressional approval. We can open up these federal lands and waters (for energy exploration),” Perry said during an interview on KSCJ. “We can pull back these job killing regulations that the EPA and the Department of Interior  are going forward with and we can rebuild that EPA into an agency that can actually be helpful and let the local environmental agencies make those decisions about water and air.” 

Perry is a staunch advocate of states’ rights. Perry has often said his goal as president would be to make the federal government as “inconsequential” as possible in the lives of Americans. Perry is now suggesting air and water quality standards should no longer be made at the federal level, but all “environmental programs” should be run at the state and local officials.

“They are the ones that are living there,” Perry said. “Their families — they’re the ones that ultimately have to live with their responsible actions from an environmental standpoint.”

Perry accused the Obama Administration of pursuing the wrong “mindset” when it comes to energy policy.

“We’ve got a president and his administration that’s driven by activist environmentalists that are not only blocking the exploration in all of our federal lands, off-shore, but also have an agenda that they have spoken about publicly to drive up the costs of energy,” Perry said.

According to Perry, the Obama administration is “strangling the energy industry with regulations” and it will send the economy into a deeper “tailspin.”

Perry is due in Iowa this evening for a private fundraiser for State Representative Pat Grassley of New Hartford, the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.  Pat Grassley faces a GOP Primary in 2012 for a seat in the Iowa House. His opponent, State Representative Annette Sweeney of Alden, has the support of Bruce Rastetter, one of the GOP donors who flew to New Jersey earlier this year to try to convince Chris Christie to run for president.

The redistricting plan the Iowa Legislature approved this spring tossed Republican incumbents Pat Grassley and Sweeney into the same Iowa House district, forcing a primary as both are farmers and neither plans to move or bow out of the race.