Mitt Romney's energy plan: Can we be energy independent in eight years?

Energy independence has been a dream of every president since Richard Nixon, and Romney thinks he's hit upon a solution

Mitt Romney speaks at the American Energy Corporation Aug. 14 in Ohio.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Pledging to make North America energy independent by 2020, Mitt Romney this week unveiled a plan to produce more domestic energy and boost the U.S's oil imports from allies Mexico and Canada. "This is not some pie-in-the-sky kind of thing," he said. "This is a real, achievable objective," and "we won't need to buy any oil from the Middle East or Venezuela or anywhere else." Romney's plan would expand drilling on federal lands and off our coastlines, while easing environmental regulations on the oil, gas, and coal industries. Romney would also approve the Keystone Energy pipeline from Canada, which President Obama suspended over environmental concerns. And Romney says he will discontinue government investments — such as subsidies and loan guarantees — in wind and solar power that have been a hallmark of Obama's energy policies. Can Romney come through on his pledge of energy independence?

Yes. North America could even become a net oil exporter: In some ways, Romney didn't go far enough, says Mark P. Mills at Forbes. "There is potential for North America to go beyond independence, and become the world's swing supplier of fuel, unseating the Middle East." Romney understands that alternative energy is a waste of time, and his plan has a chance of succeeding because it focuses solely on "producing more hydrocarbons — oil, coal, and natural gas." Traditional energy is "what the world is hungry to buy in staggering qualities, and it's where the jobs are," making Romney's plan "Keystone times ten in terms of economic opportunity."

"Romney chooses a tech-centric energy plan to jumpstart jobs and economic growth"

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But the U.S. can't become energy independent on its own: Romney is cheating a little by calling for "North American" energy independence, since he knows the "U.S. can't come close to achieving oil independence on its own," says Steven Mufson at The Washington Post. The key to his plan is the Keystone pipeline, which, for better or worse, would give the U.S. a flood of oil from Canada's "controversial, greenhouse gas-intensive oil sands."

"How Keystone factors into Romney's energy plan"

Wind and solar are vital to energy independence: That's not Romney's only cheat. His plan "overpromises on results while ignoring many of the biggest energy problems the U.S. faces," says Michael Levi at Foreign Policy. Even if the U.S. imported no oil from the Middle East, the price of oil would continue to be determined by the global market, which means Romney will not have broken the energy link "putting the U.S. economy at risk and constraining U.S. freedom of action." True energy independence can only be achieved if the U.S. reduces its "massive consumption of oil" and increases its reliance on energy alternatives, and Romney bafflingly says "nothing to address this Achilles heel." His strategy "falls woefully short."

"Pipe Dreams"

And the truth is: Alternative energy shows real promise: Mitt Romney says he likes wind and solar as much as the next person, but you "would be forgiven for thinking that the next person doesn't like them much at all," says Bloomberg in an editorial. His plan "largely ignores the solid promise of clean energy," which, thanks to federal investment, is expected to drive 10 percent of U.S. power by 2020. "Given how far clean energy has come, why stop it in its tracks now?"

"Romney's energy plan ignores solar's success"

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