Friday, August 24, 2012

Follow the money

"By proposing to end a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling and coal mining on government lands, Mitt Romney is making a bid for anti-Washington voters in key Western states while dangling the promise of a big reward to major campaign supporters from the energy industry...

Giving states control over the energy resources on millions of acres of federal lands would be a radical shift from decades of policies under both Democratic and Republican presidents, dating all the way to Theodore Roosevelt, who first set aside vast tracts of territory to preserve wildlife. Since then, the federal government has tried to balance exploitation of mineral resources with other uses like recreation and environmental protection...

“This step would be a change in national policy direction going back at least 50 years, giving control over national assets to localities,” said Michael E. Webber, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. “Local decision makers could inhibit production that could be against the national interest or could encourage production that could pollute waters or air in another state.”...

Federico Peña, secretary of energy in the Clinton administration and now a co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, said Mr. Romney’s plan would cause more problems for the oil and gas industry. “I cannot imagine a world in where there are 50 different kinds of rules and regulations for industry,” Mr. Peña said. “To see Balkanization of rules and regulation I think would drive the industry crazy.”...

An individual close to the Romney campaign said that Mr. Romney’s staff drafted the proposal in consultation with industry executives, including Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma billionaire who is the chairman of the campaign’s energy advisory committee and chief executive of Continental Resources, an oil and gas driller.

Just this week, the oil and gas industry gave nearly $10 million toward the Romney election effort in two fund-raisers."
A commenter who agrees with Peña adds: "I am in the extractive resource business, and I cannot think of a worse idea. States are extremely prone to local corrupt political practices and unsavory business influences. Utah is a classic example of this, as Romney should know. The legacy of federal ownership and management of public lands and minerals is a wonderful thing, and should be kept that way. I'm sick and tired of Republicans attempting to put everything up for sale. Truly appalling. Teddy Roosevelt is turning in his grave."

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