BOSTON, Massachusetts, August 23, 2012 (ENS) – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney today released an energy plan for the nation that supports development of oil, gas and nuclear power but undercuts wind and solar energy.
Speaking in Hobbs, New Mexico, an oil and gas industry center, Romney promised to create three million jobs and more than $1 trillion in new revenue and predicted complete “North American energy independence by 2020, a never-realized goal claimed by presidential candidates for decades.”
Romney said he would expand off-shore oil drilling along the coast of mid-Atlantic swing states like North Carolina and Virginia, where it is currently banned and in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Romney plan also includes drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a hot-button issue for environmentalists concerned about wildlife protection from oil spills in this fragile habitat. Congress has blocked drilling there for more than 25 years.
President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney struck back today, saying, “I think what distinguishes the President’s all-of-the-above approach to our energy future from the Republican approach is that the Republican approach is essentially one that is written by or dictated by big oil and focuses almost entirely on oil and fossil fuels.”
“This President believes we need to embrace all forms of domestic energy production, including oil, including natural gas, including nuclear energy – which, as you know, this administration has invested in for the first time in 30 years – including renewables like wind and solar,” said Carney.
“As president, Mitt Romney will make every effort to safeguard the environment,” the Romney campaign says.
“The first step will be a rational and streamlined approach to regulation, which would facilitate rapid progress in the development of our domestic reserves of oil and natural gas and allow for further investment in nuclear power.”
President Obama’s administration has increased energy production on federal waters and lands, Carney reminded reporters at the White House today. “The administration just finalized a plan that will build on the millions of acres we have made available for production offshore in the last year alone by making 75 percent – 75 percent of offshore resources available for production.”
“We have now more coal miners employed in this country than we have had in the past 15 years,” said Carney.
“If you look at the President’s record, he has been very aggressive in pursuing ways to increase domestic production of energy,” said Carney. “He has done it also in a way that is mindful of the need to produce in a safe and reliable fashion.”
Romney proposes to “amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview,” his campaign said today. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, emitted by the burning of coal, oil and gas, traps the Sun’s heat close to the planet, causing an increase in the planetary temperature.
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide must be regulated as a pollutant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency then determined that carbon dioxide endangers public health and welfare and has proceeded to regulate the gas.
“Government has a role to play in innovation in the energy industry,” the Romney campaign said today. “However, we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches,” the campaign said, while expressing support for oil, gas and nuclear over renewables.
“The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example,” said the Romney campaign.
The Romney energy plan gives the Nuclear Regulatory Commission greater “capabilities for approval of additional nuclear reactor designs” and streamlining “NRC processes to ensure that licensing decisions for reactors on or adjacent to approved sites, using approved designs, are complete within two years.”
While President Obama has opened 75 percent of American offshore resources for oil and gas development, most environmentalists want to move away from development of these fossil fuels because finding and extracting them pollutes land and water and burning them emits pollutants into the atmosphere.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune responded to the Romney plan today saying, “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.”
Romney specifically supports approval of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which needs presidential approval to cross the Canada-U.S. border. It would bring diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas and Oklahoma.
“We’re going to get that Keystone pipeline built as one of those first infrastructure projects to take advantage of their resources,” Romney said in New Mexico today. He said it would be part of his plan to make the United States independent of the need to import oil from foreign countries.
President Obama told donors in New York Wednesday that under his administration, America’s dependence on foreign oil is way down.
“On energy, one of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that we’ve actually reduced our dependence on foreign oil below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years,” Obama said. “And we keep on going down. Oil production is up. Natural gas is up. But we’re also doubling the energy that we get from wind and solar – that is clean, it’s renewable, it’s homegrown, it’s creating jobs all across America.”
Romney has said he would allow the production tax credit for wind energy to expire at the end of the year, which will happen if Congress does not reauthorize it.
Already this month, layoffs are increasing in the U.S. wind industry manufacturing sector in the absence of any indication that Congress will extend the Production Tax Credit that has been the basis for growth of U.S. jobs and manufacturing since 2005. Some 500 employees of four wind component manufacturers were told in August they will lose their jobs if the tax credit is not extended.
American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode said the threatened layoffs “represent what is happening and will continue to happen across the country in the U.S. wind industry if these businesses are not provided the policy certainty they need to continue to invest in America and its workers.”
Obama told the New York donors, “Mr. Romney, he wants to eliminate the key support that is going to allow us to grab our energy future. That is not the kind of future that we want for our kids. So, there is a lot at stake in this election.”
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