Romney Energy Plan: More Drilling, More Oil Dependence

Big oil makes $374 million a day in profits -- which gives them ample resources to pump into presidential politics. Source: ## for American Progress##

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled his energy plan today [PDF]. The idea is to break our addiction to foreign oil — by increasing our addiction to domestic oil. If by “domestic” we mean Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.

Essentially, the plan is to go bananas on oil drilling. States would have the right to drill off their own shores, with merely a federal rubber stamp. Grist’s Philip Bump explains why oil drilling isn’t something that should be left to the states:

There’s a reason that the federal government has a legitimate role in monitoring extraction and resource development: Pollution and impacts don’t stop at state lines. It’s why the EPA is trying to figure out how to regulate cross-state air pollution. Air doesn’t care about borders.

And then there’s the obvious problem: Do residents of Florida want Georgia to build a series of unsafe oil derricks off its coast? Will any state still want to border Texas? Hard to see how this doesn’t result in a production boom — of complaints and lawsuits filed in federal courts.

There’s nothing in the document about reducing fossil fuel consumption. That just doesn’t figure in. No examination of how the nation uses energy and how it could use less. “By 2025, [Obama’s] increased CAFE standards are expected to reduce U.S. oil consumption by about 2.2 million barrels per day,” Brad Plumer writes in the Washington Post. “Without those rules, energy independence looks nearly impossible. And Romney, for his part, has pledged to overturn those fuel-economy rules.” To say nothing of Paul Ryan’s plan to continue outdated policies that enable sprawl and eliminate federal transportation programs that don’t involve highways.

Romney’s plan is just about ending imports from the Middle East. That’s it. It won’t protect consumers from volatile gas prices, it won’t curb greenhouse gas emissions, it won’t make our cities better places, it won’t protect farmland — all things a real energy policy would do.

As Rachel Maddow said on her show in 2010, “Energy independence is not the issue. The issue is dependence on oil, period. And it`s an important distinction because we are at a point where we actually need to do something about our dependence on oil.”

No, Romney wants to get off Middle Eastern oil by replacing it with good old fashioned American oil — North American, anyway. He wants to pursue a North American Energy Partnership with oil powerhouses Mexico and Canada, the top two producers in the hemisphere (above even Venezuela). To do that, of course, it would help to have a massive pipeline connecting us to their oil — ring any bells? The Keystone XL pipeline would do the trick just fine, says the Romney document.

Philip Bump also notes that Romney’s plan includes a government mandate to update seismic surveys and other geological assessments. “By arguing that the government should do these surveys, Romney proposes shifting the cost of determining likely areas [for drilling] from the companies to the government,” Bumps writes. “Pretty neat.”

Romney’s plan for renewables is, essentially, that if the private sector wants to, they can have at it. But there will be no subsidies for renewable energy sources, no national priority on actually achieving oil independence — just foreign oil independence, with the definition of “foreign” being a little fuzzy.

Not surprised that a Romney presidency would be friendly to big oil and gas interests? This may not surprise you either: “Mr. Romney has raised considerable money from donors with ties to the oil industry,” wrote Clifford Krauss and Ashley Parker in the New York Times yesterday. “Over the past two days, he pulled in nearly $10 million in oil money: $6 million to $7 million Tuesday from two fund-raisers in Texas (in Houston and Midland), and $2 million at a fund-raiser Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark. Claiborne P. Deming, who introduced Mr. Romney at the Arkansas event and is a finance co-chairman in the state, is chairman of Murphy Oil, a global gas and oil company.” That explains it.

5 thoughts on Romney Energy Plan: More Drilling, More Oil Dependence

  1. Reason number 34971 not to vote for Romney. What these guys just don’t get is sooner or later we’ll have to go to alternatives when the oil runs out. Better to make the transition now before oil price spikes seriously disrupt the economy. Of course, to them that makes no sense because they’re bound and determined to get every last drop of oil out of the ground before any transition just to satisfy their bottom line. It’s far better energy policy to just let the oil stay where it is as the alternative means more pollution, more destruction of natural habitat, more pollution of ground water. They propose to do the equivalent of selling the family jewels for a night on the town.

  2. It’s debatable that alternative renewable energy cannot by itself sustain future economy so we shouldn’t be using up all the oil and natural gas now.  These Republicans’ policies are all about filling their pockets and trashing this country, while having homes in places like Europe to move to when this country goes down the tube.

  3. I know anything to do with politics is rarely reality-based, but let’s look at some math.

    From the US Energy Information Administration:

    In 2011 the US produced 10.1 million barrels of “oil” a day (MBD) and consumed 18.8 MBD. (This “Oil” includes roughly 11% ethanol and roughly 22% natural gas liquids–ethane, propane and butane. None of these are actually oil, and all contain 60 – 70% of the energy content of true oil.  Ethane, propane and butane cannot go into most car’s gas tanks, and ethanol can only be mixed into gasoline at 10-15% ratio before it is destructive to most engines.)  This means the US imported 8.7 MBD of “oil” or 46% of what we consumed. This is a good number!  In 2005, we imported 12.5 MBD. Our consumption has dropped 10% since then.

    In 2011, North America produced 16.7 MBD of oil and consumed 23.2. This means North America as a whole imported 6.5 MBD of oil.

    In 2010, Mexico produced 2.98 MBD and consumed 2.08 MBD of oil, leaving .9 MBD to ship to us.  Also in 2010, Canada produced 3.49 MBD and consumed 2.24 MBD, leaving 1.25 MBD to ship to us.  In total Mexico + Canada had 2.15 MBD to sell to us.

    But in 2011, Canadian oil ramped up! In 2011, Canada produced 3.67 MBD and consumed 2.26, leaving 1.41 MBD to ship to us.  But Mexico, whose production has been declining for years, produced only 2.96 MBD in 2011 and consumed 2.12, leaving .84 MBD to ship to us. So in total Canada + Mexico had 2.25 MBD to ship to us.  Not a big gain. From sources outside of North America we had to import 6.45 MBD, or 34% of the oil we consume.

    Some bad news ahead–Mexico is having even more problems with their oil fields this year.  In May, they were down to only producing 2.54 MBD. If this continues, Canada will need to increase its imports to us this year by 30% for our North American imports just to stay even!

    Record high world oil prices this last year prompted the demand drop in the US and also made many previous marginal sources of oil economic to drill, pump and refine. (Heavy, sour crude is more expensive to refine than light, sweet.) Indeed, domestic US oil production increased by 4% last year. Even higher oil prices could potentially both depress demand and bring more expensive oil onto the market until we no longer have to import oil. But the price required for this would likely be *really* high–high enough to collapse the economy.  In the meantime, we would add enough CO2 to the atmosphere to fry the planet into a crispy tostada.

  4. Even if US wells produced more oil than was consumed by users in the US, the domestic price would not be immune to overseas events.  The price is determined by global buyers and sellers.
    For example, a war in the mid east could block the Gulf, and make the oil there unavailable.  The former buyers of that oil would then bid for US-drilled oil, reducing available supply for US buyers and driving up prices in the US, even though there was no disruption to domestic production.

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