Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wants to significantly boost U.S. fossil-fuel production while ending federal subsidies and loan guarantees for most forms of alternative energy, such as solar and wind power.
Romney’s energy plan, which the former Massachusetts governor outlined on Aug. 23, sets an ambitious goal for the U.S. of reaching energy independence by 2020 through increased production of oil, natural gas, and coal, accompanied by reduced regulation. The plan does not mention climate change.
“Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet,” Romney said at a campaign stop in New Mexico. “That’s oil and gas and coal.”
The strategy marks a stark contrast between Romney and President Barack Obama, who has heavily pushed a green energy agenda. The Obama Administration has poured billions of federal dollars into solar, wind, and battery initiatives under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Romney proposes to expand offshore oil leasing, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and give states more control over the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders.
The Romney plan would open up areas off the East Coast to oil and gas exploration, for example, reversing Obama’s decision to suspend marine fossil-fuel development off the coast of Virginia after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Romney would also allow construction of the 1,700-mile-long Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, which would connect petroleum from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama Administration has put the project on hold.
The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main lobbying group, says “pro-development” energy policies, such as those in Romney’s plan, “could create millions of new jobs and provide billions of dollars of revenue to our government.”
Environmental activists say the plan neglects new energy technologies and fails to address climate change. “Mitt Romney has devised an energy insecurity plan that would make us even more dependent upon oil, coal, and gas companies while ignoring climate disruption, economic growth, and the health and well-being of the American people,” says Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.