Mitt’s Energy Plan

Mitt Romney recently revealed the energy plan he would pursue if elected President. From an environmental standpoint it is a disaster, which is no surprise. After all this is the man who just raised $7 million in one day from Big Oil. Bearing in mind that this plan was revealed in a speech by a politician running for public office, we can take it with a grain of salt. None the less it reveals his mindset at present.

His plan involves opening federal lands to oil and gas exploration — leaving drilling permission to local states (thereby reducing considerably the effectiveness of the E.P.A.); it will allow drilling for oil off the East Coast of Virginia and the Carolinas; it will promote the Keystone Oil Pipeline, which Mitt has pledged to complete if he “has to build it with [his] own hands.” As a recent article in the Washington Post put it:

Getting there, Romney argues, will require three big things. First, the United States will need to open up more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling. President Obama, he says, has been far too sluggish on this front. Second, the federal government will need to give states more power to approve permits, in order to speed up the rate of drilling. And third, Romney would focus on building pipelines like Keystone XL and partnerships with Canada and Mexico to take fuller advantage of those countries’ oil resources. (Remember, Romney is promising “North American energy independence,” not U.S. energy independence.)

The plan, which touts “energy independence” for North America makes no mention of clean energy. In fact, it would eliminate subsidies for wind and solar energy, thereby discouraging alternate energy development. And there is no talk whatever of such cutting-edge projects as research into nuclear fusion or harnessing energy from the ocean tides. Mitt’s plan is all about “jobs.” He claims that his plan would create 3.6 million jobs. Here we go again.

To begin with, this plan commits the fallacy of bifurcation: either we create jobs or we save the planet, we can’t do both. Bollocks! We can do both. As I noted in a recent blog, The Union of Concerned Scientists has proposed  “a national renewable-electricity standard that ensured that utilities obtained at least 25 percent of their power from wind, solar, and bioenergy by 2025,” insisting that this would “create 297,000 new jobs, $13.5 billion in income to rural landowners, and $15.3 billion in new local tax revenues.”

But more importantly it is generally agreed that the 3.6 million jobs promised by this politician is an inflated figure. The actual number of jobs would be much lower. Further, jobs created during an oil boom are temporary and are almost always created at the cost of jobs elsewhere: people leave lower paying jobs to take the high-paying, albeit temporary, oil jobs. So the word “create” is being used in a very creative way here.

The truly disturbing thing about this plan is that it is completely out of tune with the times. For one thing, as the Bloomberg News reported recently, the U.S. is closer to energy independence at present than Romney would allow.

The U.S. is now closer to energy independence than anyone who waited in 1970s gas lines could have imagined. As Bloomberg News reports, oil imports fell to about 45 percent of U.S. demand last year and are expected to fall to about 42 percent this year, down from a peak of 60 percent in 2005. More than 80 percent of the country’s demand for power is now met by domestic sources. . .

Furthermore, this plan focuses on “jobs” and “energy independence” at the expense of the planet at a time when we should be concentrating on ways to protect the earth from further deterioration at the hands of greedy humans — while we might at the same time actually be creating jobs in the clean energy industry. Thus it would appear as I suggested in an earlier blog, this election is not about choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Despite the fact that Barack Obama has been somewhat disappointing, he has not mounted an attack on the environment and he has not targeted social programs that benefit the poor. We do have a real choice.

12 thoughts on “Mitt’s Energy Plan

  1. “We do have a real choice.” I disagree.
    When the alternative becomes…(1. open to question: DEBATABLE b: deprived of practical significance DISPUTED)…the choice is rendered moot. Our “choice” is more a mandate…
    no…a responsibility. I worry there won’t be enough of “us” to hold “them” accountable for what they see as….choice. And…so it goes….

  2. Hugh, well done. It is very clear where the Governor’s bread is buttered. It is funny, when I have told people we have 38 states who have wind power, they are very surprised. There are jobs in alternative energy to be had. The solar and bio-mass sectors or growing and we can look to China and Germany as leaders on planning. Germany is ten years ahead of us and we have people that want to dig in the dirt more when we need to do less. On this issue, the choice is very clear to keep the President on. Otherwise, our country will be taken back (wards). Thanks, BTG

      • Can your former college mates help get the word out? I sense people are craving good information rather than the political BS. I watched Maher last night and Romney’s advisor when confronted with data on the stimulus actually working and saving us from the abyss, disregard the source. Well, the source is seven reputable economic forecasters. Politics – if you don’t like the answer, discredit the source.

      • I think many of them are doing what they can. But the problem is huge and we all don’t know where to start, I suspect. I don’t know how much good these blogs do as we seem to be preaching to the choir. But every little bit helps, I suppose.

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  3. That is my fear as well. While we are doing this, there is the Evangelical Choir that is bouncing around ideas that are less grounded in fact. I have been doing something for about seven weeks and don’t know if it is successful, but it makes me feel better.I print off one post per week and edit (and resize it) so that he is in the form of a newsletter. Then I play Johnny Appleseed and live behind one, two or a handful in various places I visit – coffee shops, sandwich shops, and places where people wait. If a college campus could distribute these, maybe more open minded thinkers would check you out.

  4. This energy plan is pandering at its worst, of course, that’s what Mittens romney does best. No matter how much we drill, or how much fracking, these are finite resources, and we are going to have to find alternate sources of energy someday. Might as well be now. But then, the solar companies don’t have the deep pockets and stable of lobbyists that big oil has.

    Great post

    • Thanks. As I told the “old fart,” I don’t see why the oil companies don’t climb on board with the clean energy movement. That’s the future, whether they like to admit it or not, and there’s money to be made. They may be rather stupid in addition to being unethical.

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      • You flatter the energy companies! For all their advertising about clean energy and sources for the future, they are lobbying behind the scenes for the same old, same old, plus keeping the oil depletion allowances.

        Climbing on board would require vision, a characteristic sadly lacking in corporate america today.

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