Mitt Romney's newly released energy plan is exactly the same as Republicans have been pursuing for years.
"We will achieve North American energy independence by 2020 by taking full advantage of all our oil, gas, coal, renewables, and nuclear power," says Romney on his website.
The plan is calls for:
- immediate approval of the Keystone tar sands pipeline (the first day he enters office);
- all-out offshore oil drilling, including off both coasts (mandated - states have no choice) and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge;
- all-out natural gas drilling/ fracking on public lands
- vastly expanded nuclear development
- rollbacks of environmental regulations of all kiinds.
Romney claims this plan would make the US an "energy superpower" by reducing dependence on imports. He claims it would create 3 million jobs and give a $500 billion boost to the economy.
Although Romney mentions renewables in his vision statement above, his plan otherwise ignores them. It also abdicates any responsibility for US policy related to climate change.
Earlier this month, Romney made it clear that he would eliminate the wind production tax credit.
Here is what the candidate promises he will fight for if he is elected:
- A streamlined approach to regulation that "would facilitate rapid progress in the development of oil and natural gas and allow for further investment in nuclear power."
No mention of developing the country's rich solar, wind and geothermal resources. Very little mention of how Romney would safeguard against drilling accidents and oil spills.
Drilling would be mandated - states have no say - in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, western public lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and off the Alaska coast.
- A fast-tracked permitting process would offer a "one-stop shop for approval of common activities."
- An overhaul of "outdated" legislation including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. A particular focus are environmental protections that result in "job-killing plant closures." Any attempt to control carbon dioxide emissions will be removed from the Clean Air Act, promises Romney.
- "Particular attention" will be paid to nuclear regulatory reforms that vastly expand the resources of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). "As president, Mitt Romney will seek to streamline NRC procedures so that licensing decisions for any reactors to be built with an approved design on or adjacent to an existing site are completed within two years." He doesn't mention that the US has no plan for dealing with nuclear waste.
- An updated inventory of the nation's "cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources."
- A relaxed federal stance on fracking, in favor of state policies. "Of critical importance: the environmental impact of fracking should not be considered in the abstract, but rather evaluated in comparison to the impact of utilizing the fuels that natural gas displaces, including coal."
- Energy research and development will focus on basic research, and will downplay loan guarantees and tax incentives. "The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example."
Data tells a different story: wind contributed at least one-third of the new US energy added to the grid in 2011. And the amount of money invested in renewable energy innovation is a tiny fraction of subsidies for fossil fuels.
During this week alone, Romney received $10 million in campaign donations from oil interests.
"In spite of record-breaking temperatures, severe droughts and raging wildfires plaguing the U.S. this year and worsened by manmade climate change, Mitt Romney has put the interests of big donors over science once again," writes Daniel Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate science at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "The Romney-Ryan energy plan is simply a handout to their biggest polluter supporters, ignoring the devastating impacts of continuing to rely on a fossil-fuel based economy that does nothing either to address the growing threat of global warming or to increase our competitiveness in the growing clean energy economy."
The initial response from some energy policy experts is also skeptical.
"Romney makes the same mistake nine previous presidents committed," Gal Luft, a senior adviser to the United States Energy Security Council, an energy security think tank, told The Christian Science Monitor. "He assumes import reductions will translate into lower oil prices. This paradigm has collapsed. In the past seven years US oil imports dropped from 60% of consumption to 42%. Yet, over the same period the price of oil doubled and so did the burden of oil imports on the economy. The only thing that can bring down prices is fuel competition and cars that allow it."
Compare President Obama's energy policy, which emphasizes replacing fossil fuel subsidies with support for renewable energy, and calls for a national Clean Energy Standard, for example. Romney's "fossil-fuels above all" policy isn't surprising given his advisers who helped write it.
For the complete Romney campaign energy policy: