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Sean Spicer talks oil and gas, Trump and Twitter in Pittsburgh

Stephen Huba
| Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, 2:06 p.m.
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks during the Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Sept. 28, 2017.

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a group of oil and gas industry leaders Thursday that even though they have a friend in President Trump, they'll still have to fight for things such as pipeline construction.

“To the extent that you can, use the coalitions and groups that you have to get those issues to the forefront,” Spicer said. “The administration understands how important what you guys do is for national security, but sometimes it gets held up by the bureaucracy.”

Spicer, who left White House last month, was the keynote speaker for the Shale Insight 2017 Conference in Pittsburgh. It was one of his first public speaking appearances since leaving the Trump administration. The two-day conference concluded Thursday afternoon.

Spicer talked for 30 minutes about broad regulatory issues and then handled a freewheeling 30-minute question-and-answer session. Conference participants asked him about everything from the president's use of Twitter to solar energy, from White House leaks to his funniest moments as press secretary.

But Spicer's main message was the importance of regulatory reform – or, as he put, “getting government out of the way.”

“It's not an either-or proposition. We've got to be smart with our regulation. We've got to make sure it's not burdensome and that it doesn't stifle the American worker,” he said.

Spicer said Washington, D.C., has “a new look” under President Trump – one that does not see government as the answer to everything.

“For eight years, we saw government at the center of what happened to be coming out of Washington. Solutions were Washington-centric. Regulations were the answer. Regulations piled up from one industry to the next,” he said.

Such an approach stifles “innovation, technology, manufacturing, economic growth and job creation,” he said.

“(Regulations) should be helpful, they should protect the American worker, the American consumer,” he said.

Spicer said Trump's goal is a robust energy sector that retains a place for fossil fuels but also encourages the use of renewable sources of energy.

“What this president recognizes is the importance of what this (oil and gas) industry does for our entire country,” he said. “If we continue to unleash it, let you do your job, let you innovate, let you invest, it's good for the manufacturing sector, it's good for jobs and it allows people to benefit this country.”

Asked about Trump's Twitter habits, Spicer said tweeting is a key part of the president's communications strategy.

“He believes fundamentally that the use of social media helps him talk directly to the American people. He believes there are a lot of folks in the media who want to distort his message and undermine his success,” he said. “Using social media is his way of bypassing the media and talking directly to the American people.”

Asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election, Spicer said, “There's never been any evidence that it affected the outcome, and that's where the issue gets blurry.”

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280 or shuba@tribweb.com.

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