Last month we published an article on the energy policies of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, the clear front-runners in the GOP at that time.
But the Republican presidential primary race remains fluid, and Rick Santorum had a strong night with a sweep of Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri.
Barring a brokered convention, one of these gentlemen will likely be the GOP candidate with a chance of becoming the next U.S. president.
What follows is a distillation of each candidate's most recent energy policy statement.
Santorum's Energy Plan
According to Santorum's website, his energy policy is about "Unleashing America's Domestic Energy." Like most Americans, Santorum wants to limit dependence on foreign sources of oil. He wants to do that with domestic oil and gas drilling and more easily obtainable nuclear permits. Here are some of his bullet points:
- Rely on market forces and private sector research and development capabilities to provide Americans with clean, affordable energy through competition.
- Remove harsh regulatory restrictions on oil and gas research and exploration.
- Expand domestic innovations and energy resources. This includes oil, natural gas, hydro, biomass, wind, solar, clean coal, and nuclear energy.
- Remove bans on drilling -- both onshore and offshore. This would immediately increase supply, create jobs, and bring revenues to the federal and state governments.
- Continue promoting private-sector drilling techniques for natural gas. More than half of U.S. households use natural gas for heat, and a quarter of the nation's electricity is made from it.
- Eliminate all energy subsidies and tax credits. This will prevent the federal government from picking winners and losers in our effort to unleash all of America’s domestic energy sources.
- Immediately approve the construction of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Construction of this pipeline would deliver an additional 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day to the U.S. and would create 20,000 jobs.
- Repeal bureaucratic regulations such as EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, Utility MACT, Boiler MACT, Cement MACT, the reclassification of coal ash, and any regulation of farm dust
- Restructure the priorities of the Department of Energy (DOE).
In an interview with Rush Limbaugh from June of last year, Santorum said, "I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2, which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the manmade part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas, is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Nino, La Nina, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air. There's a variety of factors that contribute to the earth warming and cooling, and to me this is an opportunity for the left to create -- it's a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm. It's been on a warming trend so they said, "Oh, let's take advantage of that and say that we need the government to come in and regulate your life some more because it's getting warmer," just like they did in the '70s when it was getting cool, they needed the government to come in and regulate your life because it's getting cooler. It's just an excuse for more government control of your life, and I've never been for any scheme or even accepted the junk science behind the whole narrative."
It's important to underscore that the "junk science" he refers to here is the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change. Santorum also embraces common threads of the global warming conspiracy theory, believing that global warming is a "beautifully concocted scheme" by the political left and "an excuse for more government control of your life."
Romney's Energy Plan
The Romney platform is called "Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth"; it also contains the candidate's energy policy.
But before Romney details his plan, he takes some swipes at the Obama administration's energy plan:
As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of “green” jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation. To begin with, wind and solar power, two of the most ballyhooed forms of alternative fuel, remain sharply uncompetitive on their own with conventional resources such as oil and natural gas in most applications. Indeed, at current prices, these technologies make little sense for the consuming public but great sense only for the companies reaping profits from taxpayer subsidies.
Romney's document accuses the Obama administration of having an "unhealthy obsession with green jobs" and cites studies which show that green jobs might actually hurt employment rather than help it. Obama's delay of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is also labeled a job killer; the document cites an arguable figure of 100,000 jobs lost in not constructing the pipeline that would originate at the Alberta Tar Sands.
Here is Romney's energy outline.
- Streamline permitting
- Overhaul the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws.
- Reform nuclear regulation: As president, Mitt Romney will seek to streamline NRC procedures so that licensing decisions for any reactors to be built with an approved design on or adjacent to an existing site are completed within two years. And he will expand NRC capabilities so that the agency is able to review and approve several types of certified reactor designs in a way that ensures safety and reliability.
Explore and develop domestic oil reserves. This includes the Gulf of Mexico, both the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and off the Alaska coast; it includes not only conventional reserves, but more recently discovered shale oil deposits as well.
Partner with Canada and Mexico.
Extract shale gas and "prevent overregulation of shale gas development and extraction."
Research and development. Redirect clean energy spending towards basic research instead of loan guarantees, cash grants, and tax incentives. The federal government should move funding "through programs such as ARPA-E that seek to replicate DARPA's success in energy-related fields."
Romney does not support cap-and-trade or the Kyoto Treaty. Romney's viewpoint on global warming, according to a spokesperson: "He believes it’s occurring, and that human activity contributes to it, but he doesn’t know to what extent."
Newt Gingrich's American Energy Plan
Gingrich's energy plan also focuses on domestic supplies of oil and gas as well as shale oil, with the added element of replacing the EPA with "an Environmental Solutions Agency."
- Remove bureaucratic and legal obstacles to responsible oil and natural gas development in the United States, offshore and on-land.
- End the ban on oil shale development in the American West, where we have three times the amount of oil as Saudi Arabia.
- Give coastal states federal royalty revenue sharing to give them an incentive to allow offshore development.
- Reduce frivolous lawsuits that hold up energy production by enacting loser pays laws to force the losers in an environmental lawsuit to pay all legal costs for the other side.
- Finance cleaner energy research and projects with new oil and gas royalties.
- Replace the Environmental Protection Agency, which has become a job-killing regulatory engine of higher energy prices, with an Environmental Solutions Agency that would use incentives and work cooperatively with local government and industry to achieve better environmental outcomes while considering the impact of federal environmental policies on job creation and the cost of energy.
Gingrich's current take on global warming is that it is uncertain if anthropogenic global warming is real. He told Fox News' Sean Hannity in an interview last month, "I believe we don't know."
If there is a change in the Republican rankings in the weeks ahead, we'll get you the Ron Paul and Sarah Palin energy plans.