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The Columbus Dispatch - "America Can be the World's Next Energy Superpower"

Op-Ed

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By Mitt Romney

The goal of my energy policy is straightforward: guarantee America the most affordable and reliable supply in the world. Ohio is seeing firsthand the potential of this approach in the Marcellus Shale. The natural-gas revolution is creating direct jobs in construction and drilling, and producing a resurgence in American manufacturing. In the next couple of years, billions of dollars will be invested in the state in pursuit of these opportunities.

President Barack Obama has a different goal: higher prices, lower production and a government-led "green" industry. Ohio is seeing the effects of this approach, as well. The average family's energy bill has jumped by thousands of dollars during his presidency. Gasoline-price increases, alone, have cost the middle class as much as would doubling the income-tax rate.

While the president now professes a combination of innocence and helplessness in the face of rising prices, the truth is that expensive energy was his plan all along. He said his proposals would cause electricity prices to "skyrocket." He suggested we "bankrupt" the coal industry. His secretary of Energy wanted to "figure out how to boost the price of gasoline." His secretary of the Interior declared he would oppose drilling even if gasoline reached $10 per gallon.

His administration has focused relentlessly on achieving his goal. His Environmental Protection Agency pushed through the costliest regulations in our history. He rejected the Keystone XL pipeline as "not in the national interest," telling Canada to send its oil to China instead. He illegally blocked drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting a federal judge to hold his administration in contempt. He has proposed a special energy-tax increase, and has 10 federal agencies focusing their attention on natural gas.

The statistics demonstrate his "success": He has slashed the rate of federal land leasing by half. Where leases are established, his administration is issuing permits one-third slower than the previous rate. Oil and natural-gas production on federal land is declining.

In place of real energy, Obama has focused on an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy. This vision has failed. His promise of 5 million green jobs vanished as fast as the $500 million he gave to his campaign donors at now-bankrupt Solyndra. His goal of 1 million electric cars went up in flames alongside the Chevy Volt batteries that prompted a recall of all 8,000 sold so far.

The costs of this anti-growth agenda are plain. Our economy just had its worst non-recession year since World War II, and families are feeling the pain directly as gasoline prices surge to record highs.

America is an energy-rich nation, and it is time we stopped living like an energy-poor one. As president, I will unleash American innovation and productivity to make full use of our natural resources.

First, I will pursue dramatic regulatory reform to accelerate the exploration and development of oil and gas, to facilitate construction of vital infrastructure and to preserve and expand crucial electricity capacity. I will streamline permitting processes and create fixed timelines. Businesses can live with "yes" or "no," but government must stop saying "maybe" or "wait."

I will modernize our outdated environmental laws to take cost into account, and stop the EPA's practice of using imaginary benefits to justify onerous burdens. In my administration, coal will not be a four-letter word. Instead, we will applaud the industry's success in consistently expanding electricity output while reducing pollution. And I will respect states' proven ability to regulate fracking, rather than sending federal bureaucrats to take control.

Second, I will increase production. This begins with a comprehensive seismic survey both on- and off-shore. President Obama complains that we have only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves, but in truth we never have fully looked. For instance, some believe that new discoveries in North Dakota alone could double our nation's proven reserves.

I will permit access to our resources in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, western lands and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. I also will partner closely with our neighbors. Canada and Mexico have extraordinary resources of their own that can provide secure, reliable supplies for our economy. This starts with my approval of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day One.

Third, I will invest in new energy technologies. We must not allow President Obama's irresponsible and unethical funding of companies such as Solyndra to undermine the Department of Energy's critical mission of basic research. We can position America to lead on energy in the future without picking winners or stifling the energy sources of today.

This pro-jobs, pro-market, pro-American energy policy will bring energy prices down today, secure an affordable supply of energy for tomorrow, send fewer dollars overseas and create millions of jobs. America can be the world's next energy superpower, if we give ourselves the chance.


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