After reading that, you might be surprised to learn that according to the Energy Information Administration, crude oil production in the United States in 2011 was at its highest level since the late 1990s, while exports were up and imports were down. And as for jobs, as Stephen Lacey noted this week on the Climate Progress blog: “Approximately 75,000 jobs were created in the oil and gas sector under the Obama administration between 2009 (and) 2011, according to analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
What about wind and solar? Romney says “we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches,” which flies in the face of his continued support for subsidies for the traditional extraction industries. He says the president’s “obsession” with green jobs has been “a recipe for both time and money wasted on projects that do not bring us dividends. The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example.”
Here again Romney is simply detached from reality. The price of solar and wind has been plummeting, with solar heading toward grid parity. The solar industry has been a big jobs creator. Wind has been growing jobs, too, but that expansion will wither if Romney has his way and support for the industry dies.
But all Romney knows on renewables – all he will talk about during the campaign when it comes to them – is one thing: Solyndra. It will be the cornerstone of the Romney campaign. In fact, just this week the Koch brothers – who, among other enterprises, operate oil refineries and control thousands of miles of pipeline – and their front group Americans for Prosperity launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in several battleground states attacking the president on Solyndra. Never mind that objective, independent analysis of the loan guarantee program has shown the loans to be overwhelmingly solid. (Plus, doesn’t Mitt Romney know that sometimes businesses fail? Uh, yeah, I think he does.)
So, is there anything good in the Romney energy approach, some small nugget of sanity? There is. Actually, there are two nuggets. He is a supporter of federally backed energy R&D. “Government funding should be focused on research and development of new energy technologies and on initial demonstration projects that establish the feasibility of discoveries,” he says. And he endorses ARPA-E, the government’s cleantech VC program.
Of course, given his history of dizzying policy pivots, it would be just our luck that a President Romney would pick this area to do a 180 and side with Tea Party Republicans who want to kill such vital programs.