Romney Energy Plan Includes Drilling ‘Virtually Every Part’ Of U.S., No Protections For National Parks

By Jessica Goad

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is no stranger to attacks on the environment, as seen in his ads against clean energy jobs, his pledge to roll back fuel economy standards that protect public health and reduce carbon pollution, and the fact that he doesn’t know “the purpose of” public lands that belong to all Americans.

But this morning’s Washington Post sheds more light on Romney’s energy plan, including the fact that he would open up “virtually every part of U.S. lands and waters” to drilling regardless of whether they are national parks, national monuments, or protected in some other way.  As the Post reports:

Asked whether any place would be off limits for oil drilling, campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said, “Governor Romney will permit drilling wherever it can be done safely, taking into account local concerns.”

Current law sets some public lands and waters off limits to drilling, including national parks, national monuments, and wilderness areas.  These places are protected for other uses like hunting, fishing, sightseeing, and recreation.

Presumably, if there was oil and gas found there, Romney would allow drilling in places like the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Isle Royale National Park in the Great Lakes, regardless of its impacts on them.  In essence, he would take lands that belong to all Americans and turn them over to oil companies.

Saul’s caveat that Romney would promote drilling if it could be done safely makes little sense considering that safe drilling has thus far eluded oil and gas companies.  Most oil drilling involves the use of “drilling muds” that can include toxic chemicals.  Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas involves pumping thousands of gallons of chemicals underground to stimulate wells.  And all drilling produces contaminated water as a byproduct that must be disposed of.   Additionally, oil spill are not uncommon—for example, a report from USA Today found an average of 22 large spills offshore every year between 2005 and 2009.

Romney’s calls for drilling everywhere come at a time when oil and gas production in the U.S. is at its highest since 1998, oil imports are the lowest since 1997, and there are more drill rigs in the United States than the rest of the world combined.  Additionally, oil companies are not drilling public lands and waters that they have already leased.  A new report from the Department of the Interior finds that industry is sitting on—not exploring or producing—26 million acres of leases offshore and 20 million acres of leases onshore.

Leading the Romney campaign’s energy strategy is Harold Hamm, who made almost all of his $12 billion fortune from oil and gas drilling in North Dakota.

Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

29 Responses to Romney Energy Plan Includes Drilling ‘Virtually Every Part’ Of U.S., No Protections For National Parks

  1. Carrie Stone says:

    Most Americans don’t get how important this election is to the economy, minorities, education, the environment – you name it. The right has been so successful at “messaging” – er, I mean lying – and the media pretty much lets them get away with it. Thanks to blogs like TP, we get the other side of the story. Problem is though, most people who need to hear the truth about Romney’s plans will never read this article. They’ve been brainwashed into believing the truth is just a lot of Socialist/Communist propaganda.

  2. DallasNE says:

    “Taking into account local concerns”

    How exactly would this play out in a Romney administration. On the Keystone XL pipeline Romney had said he would approve it on day one of his administration. Local concerns by the Republican Governor of Nebraska is why Obama put that project on hold in the first place.

    My guess is that this is just the sound bite of the day and it will change tomorrow as it has already failed the test.

  3. LJL says:

    How did Romney ever make money in business? His seeming ignorance of the basics of good business practices is astonishing. Presumably he’s campaigning for the presidency but all the policies he’s proposing would clearly hurt America. He’s proposing to give oil companies leases at bargain basement prices, when they’re not going to use them. He wants to screw America to enrich his crooked friends instead of using business practices to enrich the country.

  4. rat618 says:

    “local concerns” = no drilling around Key Biscayne Island or any other wealthy hangout but everywhere else is up for grabs.

  5. dontcallmefrancis says:

    Fast track to Nigeria!

  6. Jackie says:

    Greed takes over and people die. We has perious oil spills with no safety and the latest is now producing mutant fish and killing coral. Mitt is looking to give any company what they want for a buck. Some hate Obama so much they are willing to let the USA be destroyed rather then have him help correct the mess of this Recession. Republican Senator Coburn said there has been hidden money the Congress could have used without touching the national debt but the GOP wont use it for recovery/Jobs because they want the USA and Obama to fail. When Mitt destroys the USA the only persons to blame are the American people who set back and let it happen. Mitt is only looking out for himself and the profits to Bain Capital and their investers. Many wealthy investers are right now joining Bain as the partner owner will be the US President and they will see millions in profits.

  7. fitley says:

    Obviouly Mittens can see the oil rigs from his beachfront house. No problem.

  8. fitley says:

    Obviously I meant CAN’T see.

  9. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    John Muir just rolled over in his grave.

  10. Ric Haustein says:

    I wonder how Teddy Roosevelt would feel if he were alive.

    So in the future, we can look forward to oil wells on the right and left as we attempt to get away from the stresses of city life. And don’t forget the smell. Got to have that.

    The amazing thing to me is that very few realize that this will do nothing to lower gas prices. The oil producers are going to put this on the open market and sell to the highest bidder. Same is true of the oil for the Keystone Pipeline; the ones doing the best on that deal are the Canadian oil producers.

  11. Helen Rainier says:

    This is what an MBA and a JD get you.

  12. j7915 says:

    How will providing passage of Canadian oil through Texas to Europe or China make the US independent in energy?

  13. Dawn says:

    In other words, he wants to nationlize the ND oil boom that is leading to absurd rents and destroying the quality of their lives .

  14. Charles Lemos says:

    On Easter Island, they cut down the last tree. We will do the same. We will outstrip our planet’s resources because some of us are that stupid and that greedy.

  15. Telzey Amberdon says:

    The thing you need to understand about the gentleman in question is that he’s perfectly happy to say anything at anytime to anybody, no matter how crazy or unworkable. He probably got a sense from the audience that they’d like to hear what he said, so he said it. For instance, when he was the governor of a state I once lived in, Massachusetts, he flat-out said he supported the right of a woman to choose abortion, that it was between her and her doctor and not the state’s business. He said this because he read that the audience wanted to hear him say it, no other reason.

  16. DallasNE says:

    The question answers itself. At least the refining will occur in this country. Most of this will be refined into diesel and shipped to Europe and South America. The Panama Canal cannot handle oil tankers so China is out of luck this time. I haven’t seen the new route TransCanada is proposing but assume it will have major flaws as well because spills could quickly make it into the Missouri River, which supplies drinking water for an awful lot of people. They need to swing it east and follow the ridge between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. That way spills could be contained in small feeder streams. And spills will occur.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    While I am beginning to suspect that his owners have decided to dispense with Obama’s services, and go to direct plutocrat rule, it is, plainly, immaterial. The Repugnants are going to control both Houses as the Democrat voters stay home, as in 2010, and the Mad Hatter turkeys swarm out of their covens to vote for Christmas. They, of course, being Dunning-Krugerites, think that the victims will be those they despise, and they’ll only learn that they too are targeted, too late, if at all. Running dead in Wisconsin was pure Obama. Give the hardest Right Repugnants a head of steam, and strangle a grass-roots resistance movement in its crib. The disillusioned and betrayed will stay home-mission accomplished.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Romney will govern for the 0.01%, the ‘have mores’ as GW Bush called them. They are his caste-the rest of the country are Untouchables, destined for serfdom and debt peonage.

  19. fdbrightly says:

    I’m going to guess that some local concerns are going to be a little more valuable than others. Rich, white neighbourhood concerned about the view (and water that catches on fire)? No drilling. Everyone else is screwed.

  20. Tim O says:

    I’m just guessing, but how much would you like to bet, that if we drilled in “every possible location” that somehow, they’d figure out how to keep gas prices at $3.50+ because thats the new comfortable? The level where people just bend over and take it.

  21. LillithMc says:

    Don’t forget the fracking the Texans love. I read Ft. Worth is seriously polluted. Romney and the GOP are all bad. No false equivalencies please.

  22. Ather says:

    He wants to drill in monuments? Like Mt. Rushmore, I suppose. He’s taking his cues from episodes of The Simpsons (and missing their point entirely).

  23. Large Scale Aggressor says:

    Looting corporations, looting countries, it’s all the same.

  24. morgansher says:

    He didn’t… he always risked other people’s money.

  25. mulp says:

    How much for an web ad show oil rigs on the Outer Banks, tar balls on the beaches, pipelines crawling up the beaches, and claims of a big boost to job creation in North Carolina on the oil rigs, helicopter supply flights, and the pipeline laying offshore to the beaches and the shorts.

    Repeat for Florida. Virginia Beach.

    After all, these are places where oil and gas really will be found if oil drilling is permitted while the National Parks in the West are not sitting on oil and gas.

    A few ads that sound like they come from Rove and Koch superpacs in support of Romney in the words spoken, while showing images that look like they depict hell on earth will certainly cause outrage from the right which gives them more airplay. What we know for sure is the images we see are extremely powerful influencers while the words merely give us the information needed to interpret the images.

    This would be the drug ads in reverse – the positive happy optimistic images convince you to seek to buy the drugs that will cause you harms and suffering. Images of your child stuck in a tar ball from oil spills on an ugly polluted beach set your expectations for Romney policy.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    People getting cancer is good for business, for the medical-industrial complex.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    On Easter Island the rats ate all the palm seeds and seedlings, making deforestation inevitable. The human rodents eating our biosphere are the current equivalent.

  28. partygnome says:

    How about drilling on Mitt Romney’s property where he has that 3,6000 sq. ft. home? I mean, as long as it can be done safely, I see no reason why Romney would object to having a oil drilling rig in his living room.

  29. Betty Chan says:

    Since Congress sells everything sacred, I suggest that the oil companies frack for shale oil in both the House and SENATE, and in the Supreme Court. Who cares if the water in Wash. DC becomes polluted, since all the politics there is?? And if Fracking blows all these buildings to kingdom come, it is because nobody valued Democracy enough.