Elections 2012: Mitt Romney’s Energy Plan Promises Independence by 2020

Mitt Romney is to unveil an energy plan aimed at making the United States independent of overseas oil by 2020

Mitt Romney plans to unveil an energy plan Thursday morning in Hobbs, N.M., that would allow states more control over the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders, as well as aggressively expand offshore oil and gas drilling — including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas — as part of a broader effort to reach energy independence. Photo: MittRomney.com

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will outline policies on Thursday aimed at achieving North American energy independence by 2020 by pursuing a sharp increase in production of oil and natural gas on federal lands and off the U.S. coast.

The plan is likely to be contentious after the disastrous BP well blowout in 2010, which leaked millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and left 11 workers dead.

According to The New York Times, the proposal may win votes in Virginia, where drilling would bring jobs and state revenues, but would be controversial in Florida, where offshore drilling has long been viewed as a threat to tourism.

The 21-page plan offers few new policy proposals. Instead, the plan echoes familiar themes from Romney’s existing energy platform and the traditional GOP agenda, including expanded offshore drilling, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and a loosening of environmental regulations.

The plan also calls for allowing states to control energy production on federal land within their borders, speeding approval of nuclear reactors and limiting EPA legal settlements with environmental groups, reports Politico. Rather than “picking winners” among wind or solar companies, it says renewable energy would benefit from the same streamlined regulations as traditional energy sources.

Romney’s energy policies are heavily tilted toward increased production of carbon-based resources, oil, gas and coal, that environmentalists blame for global warming. He is outlining the policy two days after going over some of the details with executives from the oil industry who contributed to his campaign at fund-raising events in Texas.

Over the past two days, Republican presidential candidate pulled in nearly $10 million in oil money: $6 million to $7 million Tuesday from two fund-raisers in Texas (in Houston and Midland), and $2 million at a fund-raiser Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark. Claiborne P. Deming, who introduced Romney at the Arkansas event and is a finance co-chairman in the state, is chairman of Murphy Oil, a global gas and oil company.

The goal, the document says, is “to dramatically increase domestic energy production and partner closely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020.”

According to The Huff Post, Romney is to predict that a full-blown energy plan will create 3 million jobs in energy sectors and other areas, part of an ambitious effort to create 12 million jobs during a Romney presidency.

“I want every American who wants a good job to be able to have one,” Romney told Republicans at a fund-raising event in Little Rock on Wednesday.

“While every president since Nixon has tried and failed to achieve this goal, analysts across the spectrum — energy experts, investment firms, even academics at Harvard University — now recognize that surging U.S. energy production, combined with the resources of America’s neighbors, can meet all of the continent’s energy needs within a decade,” Romney’s plan says. “The key is to embrace these resources and open access to them.

The proposal will surely be controversial among environmentalists hoping to preserve lands like desert stretches of New Mexico where threatened species roam.

“Only two days after a fundraiser hosted by the CEO of major oil companies, Romney is expected to defend billions in oil subsidies while opposing efforts to use oil more efficiently and develop homegrown alternative energy,” said an Obama campaign statement from former Clinton Energy Secretary Federico Pena. “We will never reach energy independence by turning our backs on homegrown renewable energy and better auto mileage.”

Romney policy adviser Oren Cass said Romney supports green energy and government spending on energy research, but opposes loan guarantees for green companies.

“Gov. Romney is focused on actually setting the wind industry up to be a competitive, innovative industry that can succeed on its own two feet, like so many other successful and profitable industries in the country,” he said.

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