Romney unveils plan to achieve U.S. energy independence by 2020
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney yesterday unveiled his energy plan, which prioritizes oil and gas drilling but cuts back on federal funding to develop renewable energy such as wind and solar.
“If I’m the President of the United States in a few months here, I will set a national goal of America and North America energy independence by 2020. North American energy independence by 2020. That means we produce all the energy we use in North America,” Romney told supporters in Hobbs, New Mexico. “It is achievable. This is not some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing.”
To justify his heavy reliance on domestic fossil fuel resources, Romney challenged the oft-cited scientific data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that the country holds only 2% of the world’s oil reserves.
“That’s a dramatic understatement of the energy resources of this country. It’s probably at least 7 times that amount of even more,” said Romney, without citing any data to support his claim.
Romney’s plan would increase domestic oil production, reaching 23 to 28 million barrels a day by 2020. Romney proposed to reach that goal by:
- Boosting offshore drilling (increasing production by 2 million barrels a day).
- Using hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – technology to extract so-called “tight oil”, yielding an additional 2 million barrels a day. Fracking is a method that involves pumping chemicals, gels or foams into the ground to break up rocks, thereby releasing natural gas or petroleum for extraction. In some cases, franking liquids could contaminate groundwater (or drinking water) supplies, which cannot be easily cleaned or replenished.
- Allowing drilling in Alaska’s Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Converting natural gas liquids to petroleum (boosting production by 2 million barrels a day).
- Encouraging production of biofuels, such as ethanol or biodiesel (adding another 1 million barrels of oil per day).
- Building the Keystone Pipeline to transport oil extracted from Canada’s oil sands.
- And sharing advanced technologies with Mexico to improve the country’s oil production.
Romney said meeting his domestic oil production goals would enable the U.S. to significantly reduce oil imports, which account for 45% of the nation’s oil supply.
“We won’t need to buy any oil from the Middle East or Venezuela or anywhere else where we don’t want to,” said Romney.
To scale oil production, Romney proposed to:
- Speed up the permitting process to allow private corporations to drill for oil and gas on federal land. Romney would transfer the federal permitting responsibilities to state regulators, whose decisions would be “overseen” by the federal government.
- Accelerate offshore drilling along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and the Gulf states. Romney said private companies who accept the 5-year leases must meet oil production targets set by the federal government or face “corrective measures.”
- Loosen federal regulations and impose a statute of limitation on environmental lawsuits on oil and gas drilling.
- Fast-track the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the U.S.
- Perform new seismic surveys to produce an “accurate” inventory of energy resources in the United States.
- Scale back federal loans and incentives for the research and development of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
“Look, I like wind and solar like the next person, but I don’t want the law to be used to stop the production of oil and gas and coal,” said Romney.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Mitt Romney presents energy plan in New Mexico
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- U.S. Energy Information Administration: How dependent are we on foreign oil?
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- Environmental Protection Agency: EPA’s Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources