International Drilling Trade Group Calls Romney’s Plan To Turn Over Federal Lands To States ‘Populist Raw Meat’

Mitt Romney’s energy plan is devoted almost exclusively to increasing consumption of fossil fuels — completely ignoring dire warnings from scientists and energy experts that the “door is closing” on our ability to avoid irreversible, catastrophic climate change.

Along with the environmental limitations of continuing our reliance on carbon-based resources, the Romney energy plan falsely claims the U.S. can become energy independent and lower prices simply through increased production of fossil fuels, mostly oil — an impossible goal in a global market.

Calling such goals a “pipe dream,” Michael Levi, a leading energy expert with the Council on Foreign Relations said, “the Romney plan overpromises on results while ignoring many of the biggest energy problems the United States faces.”

And now, one of Romney’s big selling points from his energy plan — turning over federal lands to the states for fossil fuel production — is being challenged by an international trade group of drillers as unfeasible and possibly bad for business.

Here’s what E&E News’ Greenwire reported on the industry group’s reaction:

The International Association of Drilling Contractors, which includes rig owners and oil field service companies, said Romney’s plan is politically improbable and would be opposed by many operators concerned about the potential for a hodgepodge of state regulations.

“You might find yourself — the operators — tearing their hair out,” said Brian Petty, the group’s executive vice president of government affairs, based in Washington, D.C. “I think it’s a little bit of populist raw meat thrown out.”

Petty said some operators could find themselves unable to drill in California, for example, even though they are able to operate in Montana. “If you have a one-size-fits-all, you have only one licensing agency,” he said.

By turning over public lands to states more likely to push fossil fuel production, Romney hopes to accelerate oil and gas drilling. As the New York Times explained:

“the purposes [of federal public lands], under established law, are various: recreation, preservation, resource development. States, as a rule, tend to be interested mainly in resource development. In the energy future envisioned by Mr. Romney, that is precisely what would prevail.”

In addition, all state regulations would supersede federal laws for permitting and environmental regulation under Romney’s plan.

This sounds like a paradise for oil and gas drillers. But the International Association of Drilling Contractors believes the policy could cause more headaches than it’s worth: “The proposal to transfer control of management of onshore federal lands resource extraction to the States will never fly. Even many producers would balk at that, left to a patchwork of State regulations instead of a common federal template,” wrote IADC’s Petty in Drilling Contractor magazine.

Even Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a fierce Tea Partier, vetoed a bill that allow her state to take over federal lands because she was “concerned about the lack of certainty this legislation could create for individuals holding existing leases on federal lands.”

Romney’s position on encouraging resource extraction in national parks is still unclear. His plan says that “lands specifically designated off-limits” would not be handed over to the states. However, this could mean spaces currently protected, or it could mean spaces designated specifically by a Romney-Ryan Administration. More detail is needed from the campaign on this issue.

But Romney has made one thing perfectly clear: his plan would open up as much of America up to oil and gas drilling as possible — environmental consequences be damned.

6 Responses to International Drilling Trade Group Calls Romney’s Plan To Turn Over Federal Lands To States ‘Populist Raw Meat’

  1. Romney’s just blowing smoke. Meanwhile, all the drill, baby, drill in the world hasn’t stopped oil production by falling half a million barrels per day over the past four months. US oil production down 300,000 barrels per day in the month of August.

    Energy independence — thy antithesis is oil.

  2. BillD says:

    According to ‘free market” principles, if the US drilled enough oil to potentially lower the price, the oil companies would export the oil or refined products to other countries where the price is higher. The US would benefit from the drilling jobs but would suffer the consequences of environmental degredation and depleted resources for future generations.

    One would think that Romney and his political and economic advisors would at least know something about Economics 101. Didn’t he claim to be the “economics expert?”

  3. David K says:

    Someone with photoshop skills needs to get photos of our pristine national parks and other federal lands and photoshop some open-pit coal mines, oil rigs, tar-sand pits, etc. on them and post ’em all over the web to show what a Romney/Ryan administration wants to do.

  4. Steve Lounsbury says:

    Mitt Romney …. Enemy of the planet.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    There are no ‘free market principles’-only ‘principal’. The one operating priority was summed up by Adam Smith as ‘the vile maxim’ of the masters of mankind (ie the 0.01%)- all for me and nothing for anybody else.
    Even a relatively slow child will comprehend that unbridled greed, dispossession of others and unending destruction of the natural world is wicked and suicidal, but not, plainly, those who capitalism prefers and empowers. We have a few decades left, if we’re lucky, to stop these dead souls destroying everything that humanity has created or can ever wish for or to become. This is the greatest moral and spiritual crisis in human history. It ought to be front-page news every day, but plainly is not.

  6. Most federal land has always been federal land. States like Wyoming and Oklahoma wouldn’t even exist if the federal government hadn’t gotten there first.

    It’s not like the states had the land, and the feds took it away. It’s the opposite. The feds had the land, then gave most of it to the states while retaining chunks for strategic purposes.

    I think the drillers quoted here are a minority in the industry. Most extractive resource companies are already set up to deal with the states. They do it daily. They prefer fragmented, small-scale oversight over large-scale regulatory uniformity, for the most part, except when it’s convenient to have such uniformity (like insisting that California can’t have its own GHG standards).