Romney’s Energy Plan: I Have a Dream

Oil pump jacks drawing oil from the Lost Hills Oil Field in the San Joaquin Valley in Central California. Romney’s prescription: get more of them, and make them go faster. (Photo by Richard Masoner/Flickr)

From the folks who brought us Newt Gingrich’s promise to deliver $2-a-gallon gas if we just let him play president for a while — never mind how, just trust him — comes now from the grownup in the room, the actual candidate for president, an energy policy for the country that is equally grounded in realism. If we let him be president for a while, says Mitt Romney, he will deliver energy independence for America in seven years. Never mind how. All we have to do is trust him and the oil companies.

[Is there really any point in applying things such as logic and objective facts to the phantasmagorical  elocutions of today’s American politicians? Not if we expect to have any impact on politics, only money does that. However, it might be useful in our personal deliberations about exactly when to bail out and head for the mountain sanctuary.]

What does energy independence mean? Until now, the oil companies have been smart enough to avoid defining it when they talk about it. Sometimes it means just reducing our reliance on “unreliable” or “unstable” countries, always excluding Canada and Mexico, who for this purpose only are not foreign countries. Romney’s plan promises “North American” energy independence by 2020. Similarly, the oil companies never used to talk about when we might achieve it. Or how. To them it has been just something we might move toward, or have within reach, if only oil companies were unregulated, untaxed, and Obama wasn’t president.  Just a dream we have.

All this talk of energy independence, for whomever, brings tears to the eyes of those who still believe in mathematics (as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, intelligent estimating?). We use 20 million barrels of oil a day. We import 9 million of those barrels. Yes, that’s down from 12 mbpd a few years ago, primarily because of the recession and improved efficiency. That decline is not continuing, so energy independence requires producing 9 mbpd more than we are now.

How? Easy, says Romney. We’ll drill everywhere; off the Atlantic coast, in the Arctic,  in the Gulf of Mexico, on (presumably any and all) federal lands. Then we take Canada’s tar-sands oil by building a new pipeline to Texas whose product is intended primarily for export. And we take all of Mexico’s surplus oil. This is a country whose oil production peaked in 2008, whose total oil production — not for export, total — is somewhere south of 3 mgpd, and which is expected to become an oil importer by 2020. The very year of Romney’s independence day.

This is another verse of Sarah Palin’s vacuous theme song, “drill, baby, drill.” Buying into it requires assuming that lakes of untapped oil lie — these are Romney’s actual words — “right underneath our feet” — and would have made life easy by now if only Obama were not president. Or something. Something has somehow prevented all the oil companies of the world from poking a stick into these vast reserves and letting the gushers that ensue solve all our problems.

Right now the Big Oil Tabernacle Choir is singing lustily about the Bakken  oil boom in North Dakota and the Marcellus natural-gas miracle in Pennsylvania, et al. As I have written elsewhere here, it ain’t a boom [US Oil Boom Busted]  and it ain’t a miracle [New York Times Explodes Natural-Gas Bubble].

A former director of the Energy Information Administration, Jay Hakes, has written a book about the prospects for energy independence. His conclusion (according to Politico): there is no economically feasible way the United States can ever attain zero oil imports.

Whether the great American electorate goes skipping down the yellow brick road with Romney, Ryan and company remains to be seen, and is of diminishing interest. The real question is: how’s your sanctuary coming, and when you gonna bail?



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5 Responses to Romney’s Energy Plan: I Have a Dream

  1. SomeoneInAsia says:

    On another website I’ve come across a gentleman with even wilder beliefs. He seriously thinks that further developments in space technology will enable us to solve our problems of resource shortage, climate change etc by migrating to other planets, the only things stopping such developments being the myopia and greed of the world’s leaders. He religiously believes that humankind is destined to inherit the stars and that those who think otherwise are traitors to the human cause. (Fine, I replied to him, so we’ll screw up another planet like we did planet Earth, then another and another…)

    Ah, well, at least HE’s not the one running for the presidency. :)

    • Tom Lewis says:

      A bumper sticker I saw years ago: EARTH FIRST! We’ll Trash the Other Planets Later.

    • Wanooski says:

      Those people are absolute fools. Even if space migration became remotely possible, only a very few people would be able to escape the dying Earth.
      It cost how many billions dollars to send just 7 people into low earth orbit on the space shuttle? Even if we managed to build space elevators, they could handle maybe what? A thousand or maybe two, per day, and maybe you could build ten or twenty of them? On a planet with a human population increasing by 200,000 everyday, and how many unprecedentedly large spacecraft would be needed to ferry these people to, wherever, Mars, dozens? Hundreds? Hundreds of spacecraft far larger than any that have ever been constructed before.
      Whose gonna get off the dying world? The few mega-wealthy elites that are the ones running the show into the ground in the first place probably, so they can pull a repeat on one planet after another, so they get to be like the aliens in Independence Day. Good for them.

  2. mary suruma says:

    I’m already in the hills but too old to survive w/o S.S. and even though I have some great natural herbs in my small woods, Pharmacies. But I have lived. I hope the young people are reading your words.