Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s energy plan, released on Aug. 23, seeks a dramatic increase in domestic oil, gas and coal production, which he said would create jobs in construction, manufacturing and other sectors.
In his plan, Romney calls for North American energy independence by 2020, with a prime focus on increased exploration for fossil fuels in the U.S. He also pledges to approve the controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline project, and expand offshore oil and gas drilling, particularly off the coasts of Florida and Virginia.
In perhaps the most dramatic proposed change, Romney says he would give states more power to control energy development on federal lands within their borders.
Romney also says he would reduce some of the regulatory barriers that he contends have stalled energy development under the Obama administration, such as the moratorium on offshore drilling in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Predictably, reaction to Romney’s plan was split along partisan lines. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) called Romney’s strategy a “comprehensive vision for the future of American energy production that stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s failed no-new-energy, no-new-jobs strategy. "
Hastings added that Romney "understands robust, all-of-the-above American energy production will lead to new job creation, stronger American manufacturing and less dependence on unstable foreign countries for energy. The American people simply cannot afford another four years of energy policies that take the country in the wrong direction and weaken our national security.”
American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard said that “proposals to safely produce more domestic energy, such as those released in...Romney’s energy plan, are important to our nation’s economic future, providing economic stimulus and job creation.”
But Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the Energy and Commerce Committee's top Democrat, criticized Romney's blueprint as "just more of the same oil-above-all agenda." Waxman added, "He wants to protect billions in subsidies for oil companies while raising taxes on clean renewable energy."
Environmental groups also were critical of Romney's plan. Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune contended that the proposal would make the nation more dependent on coal, oil and gas companies, “while ignoring climate disruption, economic growth and the health and well-being of the American people.”
But at least one renewable-energy group showed support for Romney’s plan. Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Rhone Resch noted that the solar industry “shares Governor Romney’s desire to achieve energy independence by 2020 as well as his support for using all domestic resources, including solar, to achieve this goal.”