Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mitt Romney Releases Energy Independence Plan

Aug 23: Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney released his 23-page detailed plan for "Energy Independence." According to the plan introduction, "A crucial component of Mitt Romney's Plan for a Stronger Middle Class is to dramatically increase domestic energy production and partner closely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020. While President Obama has described his own energy policy as a 'hodgepodge,' sent billions of taxpayer dollars to green energy projects run by political cronies, rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline as not in 'the national interest,' and sought repeatedly to stall development of America's domestic resources, Romney's path forward would establish America as an energy superpower in the 21st century." The key points of the Romney energy agenda are:

  • Empower states to control onshore energy development;
  • Open offshore areas for energy development;
  • Pursue a North American Energy Partnership;
  • Ensure accurate assessment of energy resources;
  • Restore transparency and fairness to permitting and regulation; and
  • Facilitate private-sector-led development of new energy technologies.
  Empower States: States will be empowered to establish processes to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on federal lands within their borders, excluding only lands specially designated off-limits; State regulatory processes and permitting programs for all forms of energy development will be deemed to satisfy all requirements of federal law; Federal agencies will certify state processes as adequate, according to established criteria that are sufficiently broad, to afford the states maximum flexibility to ascertain what is most appropriate; and The federal government will encourage the formation of a State Energy Development Council, where states can work together along with existing organizations such as STRONGER and the IOGCC to share expertise and best management practices.
    Open Offshore: Establish a new five-year offshore leasing plan that aggressively opens new areas for development beginning with those off the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas; Set minimum production targets for each five-year leasing plan, requiring annual reports to Congress on progress in reaching goals and implementation of new policies to compensate for any shortfall; and
Guarantee that state-of-the-art processes and safeguards for offshore drilling are implemented in a manner designed to support rather than block exploration and production.
    Energy Partnership: Approve the Keystone XL pipeline; Establish a regional agreement to facilitate cross-border energy investment, infrastructure, and sales; Promote and expand regulatory cooperation between governments to encourage responsible energy production, including the creation of a forum for sharing best practices and technologies; and Institute fast-track regulatory approval processes for cross-border pipelines and other infrastructure.
    Accurate Assessment: Approve permits for seismic surveys and exploration offshore to immediately update decades-old information; Require the sharing of onshore geological and geophysical information with the Department of the Interior; Undertake new seismic analysis in offshore areas not included in the new lease plan; and Collaborate with Canada and Mexico to ensure accurate inventory of their resources and sharing of data.
    Restore Transparency: Implement measured reforms of environmental statutes and regulations to strengthen environmental protection without destroying jobs, paralyzing industry, or barring the use of resources like coal; Improve the environmental review process by setting clear deadlines and statutes of limitations, requiring better coordination between federal agencies, and allowing state reviews to satisfy federal requirements; Prevent agencies from using 'sue-and-settle' techniques behind closed doors to circumvent the public rulemaking process, impose onerous regulations, and tie the hands of future administrations; and Disclose federal funds spent reimbursing groups for lawsuits against the government.
    Private-Sector-Led Development: Focus government investment on research across the full spectrum of energy-related technologies, not on picking winners in the market; Support increased market penetration and competition among energy sources by maintaining the RFS and eliminating regulatory barriers to a diversification of the electrical grid, fuel system, or vehicle fleet;
Ensure that policies for expanding energy development apply broadly to energy sources, from oil and gas exploration, to coal mining, to the siting of wind, solar, hydroelectric, and other renewable energy facilities; and Revitalize nuclear power by equipping the NRC to approve new designs and to license approved reactor designs on approved sites within two years.
    Each key point is followed by a short explanation and then a number of short quotes from various news and information sources. As an example, the "Private-Sector-Led Development" point explanation states, "The federal government has a role to play in facilitating innovation in the energy industry. History shows that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to investments in basic research that have produced breakthroughs to benefit entire industries. Unfortunately, President Obama's poor understanding of the private sector has spilled directly into his energy policy, as he sought to have government play venture capitalist and spend billions of dollars subsidizing his chosen companies and technologies. Meanwhile, as companies like Solyndra were going bankrupt and the wind industry was shedding 10,000 jobs, revolutionary innovation in the private sector was paving the way for energy independence and an economic resurgence.
    "Instead of distorting the playing field, the government should be ensuring that it remains level. The same policies that will open access to land for oil, gas, and coal development can also open access for the construction of wind, solar, and hydropower facilities. Strengthening and streamlining regulations and permitting processes will benefit the development of both traditional and alternative energy sources, and encourage the use of a diverse range of fuels including natural gas in transportation. Instead of defining success as providing enough subsidies for an uncompetitive technology to survive in the market, success should be defined as eliminating any barriers that might prevent the best technologies from succeeding on their own." The explanation is followed by several quotes including in part:

  • The Obama Administration Has Provided $34.7 Billion In Taxpayer Loan Guarantees To Companies Like Solyndra Over The Past Four Years. ("Our Projects," Loan Programs Office, DOE, Accessed 8/20/12)
  • But It Has Allocated Only $11.9 Billion To Energy R&D. ("Table 9.8—Composition of Outlays for the Conduct of Research and Development: 1949–2013," Historical Tables, Office Of Management And Budget, The White House, Accessed 8/20/12)
  • Environmentalists Block Wind And Solar Projects Just As They Do Fossil Fuel Projects… "Renewable-energy development, which the Obama administration has made a priority, is posing conflicts between economic interests and environmental concerns, not entirely unlike the way offshore oil and gas development pits economics against environment." (Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, "Renewable Energy's Environmental Paradox," The Washington Post, 4/16/09)
    Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement on the Romney energy plan saying, "The energy agenda unveiled by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would hand over America's lands and coasts to oil companies and preserve more than $4 billion in tax subsidies every year, even as it cuts key incentives to produce more American-made wind energy. Mitt Romney would waste no time handing over our taxpayer lands and America's coasts to oil companies, but won't even lift a finger when it comes to supporting America's wind energy industry right now. Just two years after the end of the BP oil spill, Mitt Romney would truncate or eliminate important reviews for new drilling, even as he would allow oil companies to expand their operations off our coasts. This isn't a serious energy plan, it's a serious threat to our coastal economies and to America's competitive role in the world's energy future."
    Access the complete 21-page plan(click here). Access the statement from Rep. Markey (click here). Access a House Democratic analysis of the Romney plan released by Rep. Markey (click here). [#Energy]
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