POINCIANA, Fla. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann claimed Saturday that the United States has more fuel resources than any other country, but blamed what she termed "radical environmentalists" for bottling up American energy policy.
With untapped oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the nation's coasts, shale oil in Western states, and rich natural gas and coal deposits, she said the U.S. "is sitting on a mother lode of treasure."
"The United States is the number one country in the world for energy resources," the Minnesota congresswoman told a central Florida town hall meeting, arguing that in shale deposits alone the U.S. easily outstrips the total oil supply of Saudi Arabia. "That doesn't even include ... all the oil in Alaska."
But Bachmann said environmentalists were preventing resources from being exploited, leaving the U.S. dependent on energy imports.
"Instead of thinking we are beggars out here begging for oil and for energy, we are the king daddy dogs when it comes to energy," she said.
"The radical environmentalists have demanded that we lock up all our energy resources," she added. "President Bachmann will take that key out of the door. I will unlock it."
The crowd at the upscale retirement community cheered wildly.
And Bachmann got a similar reception when she promised to eliminate the "job killing" Environmental Protection Agency, saying that she would close the agency down in a single trip. "We will turn out the lights and we'll lock the doors," she said.
Bachmann is in the middle of a three-day swing through Florida. Later Saturday she will address the Florida Family Policy Council, which led efforts to ban gay marriage in the state constitution.
She said she would be returning often to the state. Florida could play a key role in determining which GOP candidate faces off against President Barack Obama.
The state hasn't set a primary date yet. But Florida officials hope to schedule it ahead of all but the four earliest voting states - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.