Anyone hoping the US will soon switch to sustainable energy might consider voting third party. Both Obama and Romney plan to boost oil and gas production.
Nevertheless, substantial differences separate them on energy. Obama has called for reviews of drilling plans and has supported modest steps toward renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. Romney wants none of that. He promises to open up drilling his first day in office and downplays renewable energy. His energy plan says nothing about energy efficiency, a sign he would ignore it. After all, Congressional Republicans have fought vehicle fuel-efficiency standards and mandates for compact fluorescents. Expect Romney to follow their lead.
Pull a cord and the Romney energy doll repeats three themes. One is deceptive, that Mitt would make America an energy superpower in the 21st century. One is misleading, that he would deliver energy self-sufficiency by 2020. The outright lie is that Obama stands in the way.
"Energy superpower" suits Romney's campaign: a catchy phrase, but meaningless. Already the US produces more energy than any other country, half again as much as Russia, which sits in second place, and almost three times as much as Saudi Arabia. And we're right up there with both those countries on domestic oil production. The reason we import oil is that the US is the world's superconsumer. The solution is better energy efficiency.
Attacks on Obama
Romney's White Paper on Energy serves up a whopper: "President Obama has intentionally sought to shut down oil, gas, and coal production in pursuit of his own alternative energy agenda."
Then why is production of oil and natural gas up? Why did the US import 60 percent of its oil in 2005, under Bush Jr., but 45 percent in 2011, under Obama? Romney cherrypicks a drop in oil and gas drilling leases that occurred from 2010 to 2011, forgetting that drilling went down under Bush Jr. and rose under Obama.
Romney protests moratoria that Obama imposed on offshore drilling, ignoring the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that prompted them. To hell with fishing and beaches--Mitt would have trusted BP and friends.
Coastguard -- Deepwater Horizon Fire by Florida Sea Grant
For better or worse, the moratoria have been lifted in the Gulf of Mexico. Up north Obama has let Shell do exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean, off Alaska.
Romney says Obama blocks the Keystone pipeline, depriving Americans of oil. In fact Keystone has been carrying oil to an Illinois refinery since 2010. What Obama delayed is the Keystone XL extension, designed to carry Canadian oil to a deepwater port at Houston, where it would be available for export.
Every Republican president since Nixon said they'd boost domestic oil production. Instead, it declined 16 percent under Reagan and Big Bush, 15 percent under Little Bush.
In contrast, US oil production went up under Carter and gained six percent during Obama's first three years in office. Other factors were at work, but the contrast nonetheless highlights the emptiness of claims made by GOP presidents.
Now Romney makes the same promise and sounds like he'd provide American gasoline for Americans' SUVs. In reality oil and gas production will rise in the next few years no matter who is president. Despite those gains, oil imports will continue.