Romney’s Energy Plan Isn’t an Energy Plan: It’s a veiled stimulus plan to bring back fossil-fuel jobs
Mitt Romney’s energy plan is a curious document. It is not actually an energy plan, but rather, a bet on a high-carbon job boom. If President Obama promised a boom in clean “green jobs” from solar energy, energy efficiency, and high-tech alternatives to fossil fuels, Romney’s answer is the opposite: You might call them “black jobs”—a return to fossil fuel-intensive industries like petrochemicals and steel manufacturing, which contribute both pollution and carbon to the air.
Romney’s “white paper” is a haphazard 21-page collage consisting of 75 percent clippings from newspapers, analyst reports, and think tank papers and 25 percent policy explanation. It was released several weeks ago and has been popularly described as pro-drilling, anti-regulation, against continuing to fund most of the “green” energy alternatives the taxpayers have already invested in, and devoid of a mention of climate change or carbon issues. Here are two good takes on it in the Washington Post’s Wonk Blog and the Christian Science Monitor.
First, why this document is not a plan: an energy plan has to solve some of our energy related problems, of which supply is only one—the others are climate security, international relations, creating a fair regulatory environment, and importantly, price—in particularly the cost of fossil fuels for workers and industry, and the cost to our economy.
If you want to see a Republican energy plan that tries to tackle some of these problems, with a carbon tax to cut emissions and oil consumption, see George Shultz talking about his work and his life at the Hoover Institution. For that matter, check out Romney’s 2004 plan for “Action Now” on the climate when he was governor of Massachusetts.
The new Romney-Ryan white paper focuses on encouraging oil and gas drilling, promising that the U.S. can be “energy independent” by 2020, meaning that we will not need to import oil from countries other than Mexico and Canada. Given the amount of oil available in new, higher-cost oil fields such as tar sands and oil shale, and declining U.S. oil consumption, this is not ridiculous. (Especially if you cheat by adding Mexico and Canada.) The problem is that being “energy independent” really isn’t all that great anymore.