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Romney’s Head in the Tar Sands

Thursday, Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced his ‘bold’ energy plan to achieve North American Energy Independence by 2020. 

In his speech, he proposes the following:

  • Continued production of energy from “conventional” means - that is already established wells, drilling sites etc. 
  • Expansion of offshore drilling
  • Procurement of “Tight” oil, obtained through fracking and other means
  • Opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling
  • Utilizing tar sands from Canada, and completing the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Natural Gas Liquids - byproducts from Natural Gas production
  • Increase in Biofuels, specifically Ethanol - using corn as an energy source
  • Relaxing environmental regulations on U.S. Coal industry

Right off the bat, this policy is drill-centric. In the vein of “drill baby, drill” Romney believes that drilling for oil is the only answer for our energy future. 

Sadly, his view is misguided.

First off, increasing production of ethanol would be disastrous. Ethanol, produced from corn, rewards large-scale corporate farming, which perpetuates the financial robbery of smaller, organic farming and the continued use of GMOs, pesticides and herbicides that ruin our fields and health.

But mainly, there is zero mention of alternative energy - wind, solar, etc. - in his energy plan. Forget the obvious conflict with our need to combat climate change, the green energy sector exists as an enormous opportunity for American job growth, investment, and innovation, all while maintaining a commitment to energy independence and recouping our environmental losses from a century of dirty energy. Neglecting this industry is the most lethal blow we can give to America’s economic health.

Many opponents to alternative energy argue that government involvement in growing a new energy sector is asinine - against our country’s free-market principles. But a brief view into the oil industry’s relationship with our government tells a different tale. In the last five years alone, the oil industry has received around $300 Billion in subsidies from the U.S. government (via NRDC). These corporations - ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, some of the richest corporations on the planet - are propped up by government investment. Compare that to President Obama’s much-maligned American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which pledged a mere $36 Billion to American renewable energy projects. 

What’s more, job growth will not be sustained if we only commit to drilling. It is irresponsible to depend on a single energy stream, albeit from slightly different sources. With this plan, Romney seeks to reap immediate job growth by opening new drill sites and pipelines, but what happens when those new wells dry up in 10 or 20 years? What happens when the price of oil rises so dramatically as it becomes cost-ineffective to scour the planet for the remaining drops, that the American people are abandoned with shallow pockets and an increasingly deteriorated environment.

Jobs are creating in burgeoning industries full of innovation and passion to change the ways we produce and consume as a nation. These jobs will not come from soon-to-be antiquated technologies but from the frontier of technological development. And crucially, green energy requires local employment, because wind, solar, and geothermal cannot be imported. 

The future of energy is not an extracted, polluting, nonrenewable resource. The future of energy is clean, efficient, renewables that provide local jobs and lessen not only our dependence on foreign oil, but also lessen our impact on the planet, whom we have so successfully neglected.

While renewable energy is not an immediate panacea, it is a crucial chunk of our energy that cannot be sacrificed for continued subsidization of dirty, soon-to-antiquated energy solutions. As such, Romney’s energy policy is backwardly irresponsible to the American taxpayer and our planet’s future. 

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