Ecocentric

Why Romney’s Energy Independence Pledge Is Half-Baked

Mitt Romney promises to make the U.S. energy independent by 2020 by increasing domestic oil and gas production. But without dealing with consumption, he's only tackling half the problem.

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Evan Vucci / AP

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at Watson Truck and Supply in Hobbs, N.M. on Aug. 23, 2012.

Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations, as he often does, has a level-headed take on Mitt Romney’s new energy plan. Romney announced in a policy paper (PDF) and a speech in New Mexico on August 23 that he would make America energy independent by 2020—or at least only dependent on North American sources—chiefly through streamlining new oil and gas exploration in the U.S. and supporting further development in Canada and Mexico. “This is not some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing,” Romney said in Hobbs, New Mexico. “This is a real, achievable objective.”

Levi noted that some of Romney’s plans—like shifting power over drilling from the federal government to the states and generally streamlining environmental reviews—made sense, and indeed would continue the growth of domestic oil and gas production that has occurred under President Obama, if not always because of him. But there are a few things missing, as Levi identified:

But the Romney plan promises far too much as a result of these policy shifts. It extensively cites recent Citigroup research to back up its claims its contention that North America could eliminate all imports by 2020 as well as to support its claims about jobs and economic growth. Yet that study is not just about oil supplies — it assumes that the United States will continue with strict fuel economy standards that lower its oil demand. Romney, though, has argued that such standards are the wrong way to go, and proposes no alternative scheme in his energy plan.

I’ve said it before—you can’t be serious about reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil unless you’re also serious about reducing U.S. consumption through energy efficiency and the cultivation of alternative sources. Romney—and indeed just about the entire Republican party—sees energy and oil only through the lens of supply. President Obama, to his credit, has tried to tackle demand as well, pushing through a long overdue increase in the automobile fuel efficiency standards. Romney has some smart ideas about increasing the impressive growth in domestic energy production, but that alone won’t make the U.S. energy independent—and it won’t do much to reduce the price of gas as long as we remain tied to the global commodity that is oil.

MORE: The Future of Oil

60 comments
Church State
Church State

The state of Utah (state headquarters of the LDS/Mormon Church and host state of Romney's 2002 Winter Olympics), has an aspiration to become the next Energy Capital/Headquarters of the United States (oil, gas, coal, wind, etc.) - probably by 2020.  This will not be possible unless Utah Senator Orin Hatch, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and other LDS faithful lawmakers have the advantage of re-writting all the federal rules in favor of making this dream come true.  A sample of what this energy related future may bring is Utah house bill HB 148 passed by the legislature earlier this year and signed by Governor Gary R. Herbert.  HB 148 is Utah's latest attempt to take control of Utah's federal lands.  This and other similar future movements will all be made possible through the work of Utah Senator Orin Hatch (a pioneer of states rights) and other LDS faithful lawmakers, (also talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck), and their big never ending push for states rights.  I personally find the dream plan quite disturbing and I am not really sure Mitt Romney has mine or your best interests in mind.

Scotty_A
Scotty_A

It is unclear whether Romney is just lying or if he is incompetent. He may be both. I don't consider him to be any better than Obama. This election is not that significant because both political parties are not offering up anything that will change how Congress acts. America survives despite the stupidity and corruption in Washington.

JustZap
JustZap

Time magazine aritcal is only thing half baked, Jews don't want to see US energy independent, cause they use USA as their surrogate army controlling the dumb democates 

vstillwell
vstillwell

Who cares about the truth? The sheep don't. 

JimPauley
JimPauley

Bryan, it’s encouraging to see the candidates addressing energy. However, as your article suggests, we're missing the boat if energy efficiency isn't part of the equation. A strong investment in energy efficiency needs to be part of our National Energy Policy, it's the world's quickest, cheapest and cleanest energy resource, will create jobs and make our nation more competitive. There are ways to do this today that all parties can agree to -- requiring no taxpayer dollars or appropriated funds. Energy savings performance contracts (ESPCS) are one of the best examples of how government and industry can come together to create jobs, upgrade our infrastructure and save energy. This simple strategy has a long history of success and every $1 billion worth of performance contracts leads to 11,000 jobs, according to the National Association of Energy Services Companies. We keep saying it’s a no-brainer, but we do in fact need the collective brains of government, industry, academia and the media to get this moving. Thanks for pointing out this important issue. -- Jim Pauley, Sr VP, External Affairs and Government Relations, Schneider Electric

Guest
Guest

Brian, it’s encouraging to see the candidates addressing energy. However, as your article suggests, we're missing the boat if energy efficiency isn't part of the equation. A strong investment in energy efficiency needs to be part of our National Energy Policy, it's the world's quickest, cheapest and cleanest energy resource, will create jobs and make our nation more competitive. There are ways to do this today that all parties can agree to -- requiring no taxpayer dollars or appropriated funds. Energy savings performance contracts (ESPCS) are one of the best examples of how government and industry can come together to create jobs, upgrade our infrastructure and save energy. This simple strategy has a long history of success and every $1 billion worth of performance contracts leads to 11,000 jobs, according to the National Association of Energy Services Companies. We keep saying it’s a no-brainer, but we do in fact need the collective brains of government, industry, academia and the media to get this moving. Thanks for pointing out this important issue.

bdcstrong1
bdcstrong1

Just a great article Mr. Walsh, but if you did just a SMALL amount of research you would discover that the US is consuming about as much oil as it did back in the 1990's... 

bdcstrong1
bdcstrong1

Don't forget "Climate Change" as we don't refer to the Al Gore; I invented the internet, Global Warming phrase anymore. Let's see, the climate has been changing for millions of years! What is wrong with giving the states back some of the power that has been taken from than by Washington? Ever heard of the Civil War, caused primarily by a struggle with states’ rights!

Steve Cowan
Steve Cowan

Energy independence can be achieved rapidly without drilling... just raise the taxes on gasoline amp; diesel fuel to match those in Europe.  Part of our troubles in the US has always been cheap fuel, and that led to large vehicles and lots of smog. And while you're at it, dedicate the tax revenues to infrastructure needs, ie road repair, bridge replacement, railroad lines, bus service, etc, etc, etc.

radeckd
radeckd

After reading Rana Foroohar's article in newest Time and Joe Klein's article from last week i finally canceled my Time subscritpion after 6 years. What a liberal Bs! See ya Time!!!

ERenger
ERenger

The fact that the success of Romney's energy proposal would rely on Democratic policies that Romney does not support and most likely would work to undermine is not surprising. He does the same thing with Medicare and healthcare in general. He vows to repeal certain measures taken by the Obama administration, but his own plans rely on those measures remaining in place for his proposals to work. 

charlie468
charlie468

Another great GOP bumper sticker strategy. Increase the supply, do nothing about consumption but somehow come to a balance. Sounds like the budget cut spending, keep all the services, do not increase taxes but magically come to a balance. This is all pure political BS

MILAN
MILAN

“Nation that lead in Clean - Energy economy , will be Nation that lead in 21. Century Global  Economy”.

We have to care / worry what kind of world we will leave to our children and next generations...

 

Q: How many more years is estimate for extractable world's oil supply under current population  explosion and economic growth/ demand for oil...?

A: Maybe around 40 more years, and on  long term, it's sure that oil and natural gas supply will continue to diminish and price will  continue to increase, what can cause more world conflicts... 

 

The most important goal for Clean Energy is our FOREIGN oil independence !(  In 2011. our dependance on foreign oil was 45%,  for the first time in over decade).Other than that: to cut tax brakes for oil companies and  to stop oil market fraud;  Unfortunately, we have delay in Congress to pass a new energy tax  creditis ( some companies call this “ double taxations”)...

USA have 2% of oil world reserve, and we consume around 20% of it...probable 40% increase demand by 2030; “ We need  strategy that relies less on foreign oil and more on American-made energy – solar, wind, natural gas, biofuels, and more”.- Pr. Obama.

USA import 9,2 million barrel crude oil/day and produce  5,4 million barrel /day

( WP on  02.16.12.); I believe, it's important for our National security, to import this oil  from our friendly neighbor- Canada ( 24,4% is import right now and I gave my full support  to Keystone Pipeline...), from Brazil by 2015,  from Artic, with Mexico in Gulf...., than from  ex: Venezuela or Iran !

Conclusion: “ SMART MIX” of  CLEAN  E ( renewable, natural gas , nuclear power…)  and Energy STORAGE  technology( like Vycon ) are the best options

 for our future. 

 

Partha Deb
Partha Deb

That is the other side of the coin .