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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said during Sunday night’s debate that over regulation by the federal government is destroying American oil and companies.

When the candidates were asked how they would balance meeting energy needs with safeguarding the environment and jobs, Trump said “energy is under siege by the Obama administration.”

Trump added that the U.S. oil and gas industry is “under absolute siege” by regulators and that the Environmental Protection Agency is “killing these energy companies.”

“And foreign companies are now coming in. Buying so many of our different plants and then rejiggering the plant, so they take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country,” Trump said according to a transcript provided by Politico.

U.S. crude exports have been steadily rising since a multi-decade long ban was overturned late last year.

Lifting the ban has allowed U.S. producers to export light, sweet crude to international markets where more refineries are equipped to process light crude.

Trump also voiced his support for alternative energy and coal and added that “we have to bring back our workers.”

“The EPA is so restrictive that they are putting our energy companies out of business. And all you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or places like Ohio which is phenomenal or places like Pennsylvania and you see what they are doing to the people, miners and others in the energy business. It’s a disgrace,” Trump added.

Trump’s response during the debate echoed a policy speech he gave earlier this year where he called environmental enforcement a “self-inflicted wound” on U.S. energy production.

Despite voicing strong support for the energy industry, Trump had previously said that he believes voters should have a say in whether local governments ban hydraulic fracturing.

Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton has previously stated that she would honor local fracking bans.

Responding to the same question, Clinton said it is important for the United States to remain energy independent while “moving towards more clean renewable energy as quickly as we can.”

Clinton noted that, while the U.S. has become less dependent on oil imports from the Middle East, energy price movements remain an international issue.

“You know that we are now for the first time energy independent. We are not dependent on the Middle East, but the Middle East controls a lot of prices. So the price of oil has been way down and that has a damaging effect on a lot the oil companies,” Clinton said.

Two years of low oil prices have forced companies throughout the oil and gas sector to scale-back spends and shed workers.

Job losses in the oil and gas sector have now climbed past 350,000, according to a Graves & Co. report seen by Rigzone earlier this year.

Clinton added that she believes the U.S. “can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses.”