Romney in New Mexico (Evan Vucci/AP)
In what his campaign billed as a major policy speech, Mitt Romney unveiled an energy plan Thursday that would give states the power to determine whether drilling and mining should occur on federal lands within their borders as part of a larger effort to increase domestic oil, coal and natural gas production and achieve energy independence by 2020.
“This is not some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing,” Romney said during a speech at an oilfield services company in Hobbs, N.M. “This is a real, achievable objective.”
Under current law, the federal government controls oil, coal and gas permits for federal lands. But Romney argued determination should be up to state officials, insisting individual states are in a better position to “develop, adopt and enforce regulations” on local basis than the federal government–which his campaign says has been unduly influenced by Washington politics.
A policy paper released ahead of the candidate’s speech by the Romney campaign argues President Barack Obama “has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda.”
Romney said that loosening regulations on the energy industry will benefit taxpayers by lowering gas costs and reducing the cost of consumer goods, which have increased as companies pay higher energy prices. He’ll argue that allowing more federal drilling would not only bring money back into the nation’s budget but would result in lower energy prices that could create jobs, lower the trade deficit and increase the nation’s security.
“Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet. That’s oil, and gas, and coal. We’re going to make it happen. We’re going to create those jobs,” Romney said Thursday. “Let