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Pipe Dreams

Author: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies
August 23, 2012
Foreign Policy


Mitt Romney has slammed Barack Obama's administration for its handling of energy since day one of his presidential campaign. On Thursday, the Romney team released its own plan, promising energy independence by the end of this decade. That plan contains important elements that Obama would benefit from adopting as his own. But ultimately, the Romney plan overpromises on results while ignoring many of the biggest energy problems the United States faces.

Republicans have frequently criticized Obama for his admittedly hodgepodge energy strategy, a charge repeated in the new plan. The Romney plan solves that problem by substituting a narrow fossil-fuel production strategy for a genuinely comprehensive plan. Much in that fossil-fuel strategy is reasonable. Romney would shift more power to the states by allowing them to approve drilling on their lands and near their coasts without federal intervention. He would streamline environmental reviews, in part through clear deadlines, and in part by handing more control to the states. If that were accompanied by more federal capacity to process permit applications -- something that Romney has decidedly not promised to do -- the result could be a win-win for business and the environment. Romney also promises to streamline cross-border permitting and expand North American regulatory cooperation, steps that could benefit clean energy and fossil fuels alike.

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