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Romney Promises 'Aggressive' Drilling Offshore and on Federal Land

Common Dreams staff

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at LeClaire Manufacturing in Bettendorf, Iowa, on August 22. Romney will unveil an energy plan Thursday that would empower US states to control drilling on federal lands he says could raise trillions of dollars in government revenue. (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled his energy plan Wednesday evening, which promises to "aggressively" open new offshore areas for drilling, such as the waters off of Virginia and the Carolinas, as well as new sites on federal lands. The plan also proposes to expedite the drilling permit approval process through limiting regulations, increase nuclear power, and increase coal production.

A key portion of the plan also includes approving the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from Canada to US refineries.

Subsequently, according to the New York Times, Romney has raised a considerable amount of campaign money from donors with ties to the oil industry. Over the past two days alone, Romney banked nearly $10 million in oil money: $6 million to $7 million Tuesday from two fund-raisers in Texas (in Houston and Midland), and $2 million at a fund-raiser Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark.

Regarding Romney's plan, David Dayen writes at FireDogLake today:

There’s a “drill-baby-drill” section urging an opening of as many offshore sites for development as possible; a “state’s rights” section that would devolve onshore development down to the states (so good luck if you live in Texas or the Plains or the Deep South); a “no more Solyndras” section on the facilitation of “private-sector-led development” of new energy technologies; and a “stop the EPA” section that stresses “transparency and fairness” in permitting and regulations. There’s also a section on accurately assessing current energy resources, the idea being that there’s all this undiscovered oil in America that the government is deliberately hiding.

Romney has also promised extensive subsidies for the oil and gas industry, "a waste of around $40 billion that could go to alternative energy development and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Dayen adds.

The proposal would allow states to control, and have the final say over, energy development on federal lands within their borders, meaning federal preserves and other protected areas will be in danger in pro-drilling states.

The Obama campaign released a statement from Federico Peña, a secretary of energy in the Clinton administration, criticizing Romney’s drill-heavy plan: “We will never reach energy independence by turning our backs on homegrown renewable energy and better auto mileage.”

However, while pursuing development in the renewable energy sector, the Obama administration has also pursued vast amounts of domestic oil and gas drilling. Oil production is currently up on onshore and offshore sites and the development of natural gas, through proceedures such as fracking, has continued to flourish through the current administration.

A New York Times exposé revealed earlier this year that Obama has been eager to open a gateway to arctic drilling that members of his own energy and climate change advisory panel thought was both surprising and "improbable".

Obama has consistently sought to clear regulatory pathways to allow oil companies -- specifically a proposal by oil giant Shell -- to start drilling test wells off the Alaskan coast.

In June the Obama administration released a five year plan to dramatically expand offshore oil drilling including 15 lease sales in six offshore areas, including the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas, where an oil spill in remote areas would be nearly impossible to clean up, and portions of the Gulf of Mexico near areas where development has so far been off-limits.

Romney will detail his new energy plan at a campaign stop in Hobbs, New Mexico on Thursday.

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