What's at Stake
Producing more domestic energy would create good jobs and bolster local economies in a wide variety of energy-producing regions that effectively "export" their product to the rest of the country. While countless jobs are engaged in the actual energy-production process, they are a small fraction of the full workforce that benefits. For instance, before the first barrel of oil is pumped out of the ground, entire industries are hard at work creating the equipment and providing the services used in drilling, production, and the long chain of supporting industries that brings energy from inside the earth to the consumer.
The ripple effects into the non-energy sectors of the economy are commensurately important. If instead of sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas we can send them to our own energy-rich centers, the nation as a whole will experience the economic benefits that we currently see other countries enjoying at our expense.
Unfortunately, the first three years of the Obama administration have witnessed energy and environmental policies that have stifled the domestic energy sector. In thrall to the environmentalist lobby and its dogmas, the President and the regulatory bodies under his control have taken measures to limit energy exploration and restrict development in ways that sap economic performance, curtail growth, and kill jobs.
The Obama administration's energy policy has been simply incoherent. For instance, it has blocked off-shore drilling in U.S. waters while applauding increased drilling off the coast of Brazil. Similarly, it has blocked construction of a pipeline that would bring Canadian oil to the United States, knowing full well that the result would be Canadian oil flowing to China instead. And it has pursued numerous regulations that would drive up energy prices while destroying millions of jobs.
As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of "green" jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation. The "green" technologies are typically far too expensive to compete in the marketplace, and studies have shown that for every "green" job created there are actually more jobs destroyed. Unsurprisingly, this costly government investment has failed to create an economic boom.
As president, Mitt Romney will make every effort to safeguard the environment, but he will be mindful at every step of also protecting the jobs of American workers. This will require putting conservative principles into action.
Significant Regulatory Reform
The first step will be a rational and streamlined approach to regulation, which would facilitate rapid progress in the development of our domestic reserves of oil and natural gas and allow for further investment in nuclear power.
* * Establish fixed timetables for all resource development approvals
* * Create one-stop shop to streamline permitting process for approval of common activities
* * Implement fast-track procedures for companies with established safety records to conduct pre-approved activities in pre-approved areas
* * Ensure that environmental laws properly account for cost in regulatory process
* * Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview
* * Expand NRC capabilities for approval of additional nuclear reactor designs
* * Streamline NRC processes to ensure that licensing decisions for reactors on or adjacent to approved sites, using approved designs, are complete within two years
The United States is blessed with a cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources. Developing them has been a pathway to prosperity for the nation in the past and offers similar promise for the future.
* * Conduct comprehensive survey of America's energy reserves
* * Open America's energy reserves for development
* * Expand opportunities for U.S. resource developers to forge partnerships with neighboring countries
* * Support construction of pipelines to bring Canadian oil to the United States
* * Prevent overregulation of shale gas development and extraction
Research and Development
Government has a role to play in innovation in the energy industry. History shows that the United States has moved forward in astonishing ways thanks to national investment in basic research and advanced technology. However, we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches. That is a recipe for both time and money wasted on projects that do not bring us dividends. The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example.
* * Concentrate alternative energy funding on basic research
* * Utilize long-term, apolitical funding mechanisms like ARPA-E for basic research