Friday, August 24, 2012

Romney would give states control over drilling on federal land, provide less support for renewable energy

Romney talks energy in Hobbs, N.M.
(NYT photo by Jim Wilson)

Mitt Romney proposed an end to a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling and coal mining on government land Thursday, in an energy plan that also calls for less support for renewable energy.

"The federal government owns about 28 percent of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. But as of March 2012, only about 37 million acres were under lease for oil and gas operations, of which about 16.3 million acres have active oil and gas production or exploration, according to the Interior Department," Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss of The New York Times write. "Under President Obama, officials in Washington have played a bigger role in drilling and mining decisions on federal lands in the states, and such involvement rankles many residents and energy executives, who prefer the usually lighter touch of local officials."

"The Romney campaign acknowledged that such a significant policy change would require the approval of Congress, the Times reports. "Getting such legislation passed, even if Republicans controlled the House and the Senate, would be very difficult, given certain opposition by Democrats and perhaps even some Republicans."  (Read more)

The National Journal reported month that some farmers are uneasy with the GOP ticket’s "opposition to renewable-energy policies that have helped them economically." Romney opposes a wind-energy tax credit "that has helped farmers bring in thousands of dollars in extra income by leasing their land to wind producers." His running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., opposes the mandate for a certain amount of ethanol production, which has driven up demand — and probably prices — for corn. "Romney stands by his support of the ethanol mandate," but "Ryan’s record of full-throated opposition to it rubs corn and crop farmers the wrong way," Coral Davenport writes. "In addition, Ryan’s budget roadmap proposes deep cuts in renewable-energy and nutrition programs that help farmers." (Read more)

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