- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mitt Romney plans to announce at a campaign stop in New Mexico on Thursday that if elected he would allow states to explore for energy on federal lands within their borders as part of a large plan to put North America on course to be energy independent by 2020.

“From oil and gas and coal, to wind and solar and biofuels, states are far better able to develop, adopt and enforce regulations based on their unique resources, geology and local concerns,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee says in his plan, which responds to a plea from some states that claimed the federal government has locked them out of energy-rich lands.

Mr. Romney’s plan calls for an offshore leasing program that opens up areas off the East Coast to oil and gas development — starting with Virginia and the Carolinas — and vows to block the Environment Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. It also targets more investment toward private-sector research and creates a North American energy partnership with Canada and Mexico that would aim to advance the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I have a vision for an America that is an energy superpower, rapidly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence on this continent,” Mr. Romney says in the plan. “If I am elected president, that vision will become a reality by the end of my second term.”

Taken together, the Romney camp estimates the approach would, among other things, generate 3 million jobs, funnel more than $1 trillion into government coffers and lower energy prices for families. The plan would move the nation away from what the campaign calls the failed energy policies of the Obama administration.

“As a result of the president’s policies, energy prices are higher, there are fewer jobs, our industries are less competitive, and families are further strained,” Ed Gillespie, a senior Romney adviser, told reporters in a conference call. “People who are living paycheck to paycheck are struggling as a result of this anti-energy policy, paying more for heating their homes and turning on their electricity and turning on their lights, as well as gas prices being up.”

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