An influx of attack ads can only mean one thing: We’re getting ever-so close to election time.
America’s presidential candidates have begun seriously unveiling their various platforms across a variety of issues, the latest of which stem from Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s camp. This past week, the campaign unveiled a 21-page whitepaper giving an overview of the candidate’s energy policies.
Overall, the Romney energy plan calls for less red tape, more traditional fossil fuels production and a call for energy independence by 2020.
Aside from the differences in rhetoric, the real question is just how different Romney’s viewpoints/potential policies are from what is currently going on. We here at InvestorPlace have been documenting America’s shift toward becoming energy self-sufficient for months now, so evaluating what the Republican wishes to do seems prudent.
The Bullet Points
- Oil & Gas: Publicizing the nation’s abundance of oil and gas reserves brought on by the hydraulic fracking revolution, Romney’s plan touches on familiar themes of weaning off the country of imported oil and sparking an economic boom. The Republican aims to do this with policies that will require fewer federal regulations, less support for renewable energy and, by and large, more oil drilling. The core of his policies would allow states more control over the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders, as well as aggressively expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling programs.
- Canadian Partnership: Spurred by President Barack Obama’s cancellation of TransCanada’s (NYSE:TRP) Keystone XL pipeline, Romney pledged to create a North American energy partnership with Canada and Mexico. The candidate cited the fact the two nations have an abundance of hydrocarbon resources and that we needed to work together with our neighbors to “dramatically increase the supply of Canadian oil to the U.S. market.” Romney also mentioned that Canada plans to send that oil to China instead.
- Renewable Energy: Finally, the campaign’s energy policy outline dealt a blow to environmentalists as it seeks to support more fundamental research into alternative energy, as opposed to the Obama administration’s policy of picking direct winners as well as providing subsidies for wind and solar. Likewise, Romney hopes to craft legislation that will limit the ability of environmental groups and others to file lawsuits blocking approved drilling permits.
The Romney campaign estimates that if the U.S. is able to achieve energy independence, it will create roughly 3 million new jobs, generate more than $1 trillion in government revenues, and provide a stronger dollar and lower energy prices.
A Familiar Road to Energy Independence
The surprising thing about Romney’s energy plans is that they share a number of similarities to current policies — with a few key details.
One of the biggest points in the plan is making sure that the drilling permits process goes quicker and that there is more access to federal lands for drilling. Currently, the rate of permitting for federal onshore lands has dropped by more than 37%, and it takes roughly 307 days to receive the permits to drill a new well. Romney’s plan highlighted the fact that some states — such as North Dakota and Colorado — can do a permit in as little as 10 days. That’s certainly a quicker turnaround time.
By pushing the permitting job to states, Romney estimates that we can get regulatory programs that address state-specific and we should see overall higher production. The campaign’s whitepaper did say that its energy policies would exclude “lands specially designated off-limits” — i.e., national and state parks being tapped for hydrocarbon reserves.
Aside from opening offshore fields on the East and West coasts, the differences in current and potential energy policies are negligible.