WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mitt Romney would give states control over energy production on federal lands within their borders and allow drilling off the East Coast as part of his plan to reduce crude oil imports.
Energy is a “high-priority issue for American voters” and one the campaign plans to stress in coming weeks, Romney adviser Ed Gillespie told reporters yesterday. He said the proposal would create millions of jobs and lower energy costs.
The plan, which repeats some themes Romney has already discussed on the campaign trail, calls for approving the Keystone XL pipeline to carry tar sands crude from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Obama in January rejected a permit application from TransCanada Corp., the project’s sponsor, after Nebraska officials raised concerns that the pipeline could threaten the Ogallala aquifer. The Obama administration is reviewing a revised proposal.
Romney’s plan also would give states control over energy production on millions of acres of lands now under federal authority, as well as open territory off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas to oil and gas producers for the first time.
There may be a renewed focus on energy as gasoline prices again rise. Prices averaged $3.72 in the U.S., up from $3.47 a month ago, according to the latest daily report from the AAA, the nation’s largest motoring organization.
Romney and Republican groups have criticized Obama for what they say is a waste of billions of taxpayer dollars on clean- energy subsidies, including a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra LLC, the solar-panel maker that went bankrupt, as fossil-fuel production on federal lands has fallen.
Obama has said total oil and gas production is up, which accounts for development on private lands.
Imports fell to about 45 percent of U.S. demand last year, down from a peak of 60 percent in 2005, according to the Energy Information Administration, which tracks and analyzes energy data. This year, the country’s dependence on imported crude oil should fall to about 42 percent, Adam Sieminski, head of the EIA, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Obama says he supports an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that includes more oil and gas development as well as extending tax breaks that favor renewable energy sources like wind power, which Romney opposes.
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