Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign stop earlier this year at KP Kauffman Co.,… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Mitt Romney will unveil an energy plan Thursday that he says will allow North America to be energy independent by 2020 and decrease costs to consumers by increasing domestic production.
The plan, released to reporters Wednesday, includes approving the Keystone XL pipeline bringing oil from Canada to Texas — President Obama has put off a decision until after the election — and increasing domestic production to spur job growth.
Romney outlined a handful of specifics to accomplish his goals, among them streamlining existing environmental laws and "aggressively" opening new offshore areas for drilling, starting with Virginia and the Carolinas. The 21-page plan also calls for allowing the states, rather than the federal government, to handle permitting and oversight of energy production, and for conducting a full assessment of the nation's untapped energy resources.
The plan is focused on supply, not demand.
The Romney campaign did not respond to questions about whether new drilling would be pursued off of California, and declined to specify which environmental laws the presumptive GOP nominee would target for reform.
But the campaign said the plan represented a marked shift from Obama's policies, which it said had been hostile to energy producers.
"As a result of the president's policies, energy prices are higher, there are fewer jobs, our industries are less competitive and family budgets are further strained," Ed Gillespie, a senior advisor to Romney, told reporters on a conference call. "Allowing for greater domestic energy production … will be of immense benefit when it comes to jobs and affordable energy for working Americans and middle-class families."
Speaking Wednesday evening at a fundraiser in Little Rock, Ark., Romney did not mention the plan, but reiterated his call for tapping all of the nation's resources.
"I'm going to take advantage of our energy resources: oil, coal, gas, nuclear, renewable, wind, solar," he told about 100 supporters at the Peabody Hotel. "And … North America will be energy independent by the last year of my second term."
The Obama campaign argued that Romney was favoring fossil fuels over renewable sources as he raked in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Romney's release of his energy plan comes two days after he raised about $7 million in a Texas fundraising swing that included many oil and gas titans.
"We will never reach energy independence by turning our backs on homegrown renewable energy and better auto mileage," said Federico Pena, who served as Energy secretary under President Clinton. Pena added that under Obama, the nation was producing the most natural gas in its history and the most oil in 14 years, while at the same time doubling the power produced by green sources such as wind and solar energy.
Neela Banerjee in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.