After raising nearly $10 million in Texas oil money in two days, Mitt Romney announces an energy plan on the Texas-New Mexico border later today that includes billions of dollars in giveaways to industry contributors.
Romney will call for extensive expansion of oil and gas drilling – including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas – and eliminating most federal safety and environmental standards that govern the development of energy resources on our public lands.
This corporate polluter agenda should come as no surprise, as the Washington Post noted:
“Romney’s plan caters heavily to oil and coal interests, and oil executives are some of his biggest benefactors.”
Romney’s energy team is comprised of oil and coal industry insiders, from oil billionaire Harold Hamm, the chair of Romney’s energy policy team – and $1 million donor to the conservative Restore Our Future Super PAC — to coal lobbyist Jim Talent, as well as retreads from the George W. Bush administration. Politico described it as “Bush energy advisors going to Romney.”
The Romney-Ryan plan once again claims mysterious “trillions” of dollars in government revenue; however, a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis found that their proposals would bring in only limited federal revenues over the next decade. Instead, the Romney-Ryan energy plan includes billions of dollars of tax breaks to corporate polluter allies, access to lands and waters owned by all Americans, and fewer restrictions on mercury, toxic, and carbon pollution.
Here are five facts about the Romney-Ryan “oil above all” energy strategy you ought to know in advance of his energy speech in New Mexico today.
1. The Romney-Ryan plan gives the big five oil companies a $2.3 billion tax cut above and beyond existing tax loopholes
Both Romney’s plan and the House-passed Ryan budget would retain $2.4 billion in annual tax breaks for the big five oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell – that made a record $137 billion in profits last year, and over $60 billion so far in 2012. Perhaps more outrageous is that the Romney-Ryan proposed cut in the corporate tax rate would provide a $2.3 billion tax cut for the big five oil companies. With the existing tax breaks, the big five companies would skim over $4 billion annually from the U.S. Treasury.
2. Romney plan gives Americans’ lands and waters to dirty energy interests
Romney also proposes the extreme idea of giving states control over energy development on America’s public lands. This is a misguided proposal that would end the tradition of managing lands that belong to the entire country for the wide array of resource values to “meet the present and future needs of the American people.” Instead, on a state by state basis these unparalleled national assets – including national parks – could be turned over to energy companies, making energy development the primary use of the land, at the expense of grazing, hunting, fishing, and all other forms of recreation. A similar proposal was too radical even for arch conservative Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. She vetoed a bill turning all federal lands over to her state.
3. Romney and Ryan would cede clean energy innovation, exports to China, Germany, other nations. They outsource energy jobs to our greatest competitors.
The worldwide market for clean energy technologies will be $2 trillion by 2020. Yet Romney and Ryan would cede this market to other nations by opposing incentives to help emerging technologies grow to scale. Romney and Ryan oppose the extension of the Production Tax Credit to encourage wind energy. The PTC helped the U.S. double its wind electricity generation over the past four years, and ending it could cost at least 37,000 jobs this year.
An American Wind Energy Association analysis predicts that New Mexico and Texas could lose up to 5,000 and 20,000 jobs, respectively, if the PTC expires.
4. Romney plan won’t reduce oil and gasoline prices
Romney falsely claims that his energy plan will “lower energy prices.” Oil prices are set on the global market, regardless of domestic production. Even oil independent nations such as Canada experienced high gasoline prices this year. The Wall Street Journal reiterated that “Producing a lot of oil doesn’t lower the price of gasoline in your country.” To determine whether domestic oil production lowers gasoline prices, the Associated Press analyzed 30 years of production and price data. AP determined that there is:
“No statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.”
5. Romney and Ryan support continuing mercury contamination from power plants
The Obama administration issued overdue reduction standards for mercury and cancer causing pollution from power plants. The standard saves thousands of lives of children, seniors and other vulnerable people. Yet Romney promises to undo it on his very first day in office by issuing an executive order that
“Directs all agencies to immediately initiate the elimination of Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy or job creation.”
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standard will produce “$3 to $9 in health benefits” for every dollar in pollution reduction costs, according to EPA.
In spite of record-breaking temperatures, severe droughts and raging wildfires plaguing the U.S. this year and worsened by manmade climate change, Mitt Romney has put the interests of big donors over science once again. The Romney-Ryan energy plan is simply a handout to their biggest polluter supporters, ignoring the devastating impacts of continuing to rely on a fossil-fuel based economy that does nothing either to address the growing threat of global warming or to increase our competitiveness in the growing clean energy economy.
— Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Noreen Nielsen is CAPAF Energy Communications Director, and Christy Goldfuss is the Public Lands Project Director.