Romney announces energy independence plans

Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak about energy independence in New Mexico on Thursday.  In advance of the speech, his campaign released a white paper laying out his plans for ???North American energy independence by 2020.???

The heart of this plan involves a complete reversal of Obama policy ??? in other words, the Romney Administration won???t actively work to thwart American energy production.  ???While President Obama has described his own energy policy as a ???hodgepodge,??? sent billions of taxpayer dollars to green energy projects run by political cronies, rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline as not in ???the national interest,??? and sought repeatedly to stall development of America???s domestic resources, Romney???s path forward would establish America as an energy superpower in the 21st century,??? the introduction to Romney???s energy plan declares.

To this end, Romney would empower state governments to ???establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders, excluding only lands specially designated off-limits.???  Federal agencies would still ???certify state processes as adequate,??? but Romney???s overall goal is to rein in Obama???s out-of-control EPA, whose regulatory over-reach has been faring poorly in federal courts.

Nothing about America???s currently increasing dependence on foreign oil, and the high prices we???re paying for energy, is accidental.  ???In the midst of the energy revolution taking place on state and privately-held lands across America, oil and gas production on federal lands somehow plummeted last year,??? the Romney plan points out.  ???This was no accident. President Obama has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas, and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda. Federal land open for exploration has declined nearly 20 percent on his watch, and the rate of permitting is down 37 percent. It now takes a shocking 307 days to receive the permits to drill a new well.???  The plan goes on to contrast this miserly federal energy development with the booming oil development on private and state land, in areas such as North Dakota.

Romney also wants to revive the offshore drilling industry, beginning with the coastal regions of Virginia and the Carolinas.  Offshore drilling was down 14 percent last year in general, 25 percent in the Gulf of Mexico.  Obama has blocked development of significant offshore resources completely, in particular the huge oil field off the coast of Virginia that Romney would begin developing right away.

Of course, Romney wants the Keystone XL pipeline project approved, although Obama has already done incalculable damage to American energy independence by capriciously blocking that vital pipeline.  Romney would strengthen partnerships with both Canada and Mexico, which currently provide only about 37 percent of our oil, even though it???s much cheaper ??? Canadian oil is nearly $18 per barrel less than OPEC oil at the moment.

Romney notes that much of President Obama???s anti-energy rhetoric is based on outdated information, combined with his penchant for confusing ???proven??? reserves with the actual oil and gas production potential of American lands.  (That???s how Obama falsely, and repeatedly, claims that the United States only has 2 percent of the world???s oil.  The true size of the oil reserves that we could exploit is about 70 times as large as the one Obama likes to cite.)

???The American people and their policy makers must have a realistic picture of the nation???s true resource abundance in order to make informed decisions about the future of American energy policy,??? the Romney plan declares, in the course of calling for new, more accurate surveys of our resources.  ???There is no excuse for placing any area so far off-limits that its potential cannot be determined,??? the white paper adds.

Romney???s plan calls for the reform of regulations that have been ???seized on by environmentalists as tools to stop development altogether,??? leading to ???overregulation, permitting delays, endless reviews, and senseless litigation??? that interferes with energy production.  A Chamber of Commerce survey is cited, which found that 351 energy projects – good for $3.4 trillion of economic growth and over a million jobs – were delayed by federal regulations in 2010

Romney finishes up by calling for government support of private-sector innovation, instead of subsidizing uncompetitive technologies for the benefit of political supporters, as President Obama has done.  ???Unfortunately, President Obama???s poor understanding of the private sector has spilled directly into his energy policy, as he sought to have government play venture capitalist and spend billions of dollars subsidizing his chosen companies and technologies,??? the Romney white paper states. ???Meanwhile, as companies like Solyndra were going bankrupt and the wind industry was shedding 10,000 jobs, revolutionary innovation in the private sector was paving the way for energy independence and an economic resurgence.???

As a result of achieving energy independence, Romney???s plan projects benefits that include over 3 million new jobs, $500 billion in economic growth, lower trade deficits, a trillion dollars in revenue for cash-strapped state and local governments, lower energy prices, and improved national security.

Or we could re-elect Obama and let him throw another trillion dollars of our money at his top donors, to prop up their windmill farms and solar panel factories, while offshore drilling heads to Brazil with his blessing, and Canadian oil flows to China at his insistence.

Update: House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) released a strong statement of support for Romney’s plan:

???Mitt Romney???s vision proudly embraces our natural resources and puts our nation on a path to North American Energy independence by 2020.  What was once thought inconceivable is now within our grasp under the right leadership.

???We cannot afford the Obama administration???s divisive ‘all of the above but nothing from below’ approach that maligns our many resources, blocks shovel ready projects like the Keystone Pipeline, and refuses the hand of cooperation from allies like Canada.

???Mitt Romney???s plan will keep prices affordable for families and bolster our national security by freeing our dependence on hostile countries for energy to power our economy.

???A Romney administration, coupled with a determined Republican Congress, will make the right choices, cut the burdensome red tape, foster a new era of broad economic growth and create countless jobs by wisely developing our abundant resources.

???Americans should work together to fulfill the promise of North American energy independence. We can achieve this milestone, not through new regulations and mandates, but through unleashing technology and market forces.  It???s a goal we can all support and an aspiration within our reach with Mitt Romney as our president.???