Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is unveiling a new energy policy blueprint for America today, but all you need to know is already right there at the top of the “Energy” page on his campaign website. You don’t even have to read anything, because it’s a logo. I’ll wait while you check the link.
Got it? Unless they took it down, you’re not hallucinating. Yep, it’s a light bulb. At a time when energy technologies and energy jobs are rapidly transitioning to a new future, Mr. Romney visually summarizes his energy plans with a technology that has barely changed since horses and buggies ruled the streets. As for the new policy blueprint itself, it all goes downhill from there…
Romney to America: Drill Baby, Drill.
Ben Geman over at The Hill provides a good overview of the plan, which was released to the media yesterday. As Geman describes it, the goal of the plan is to achieve “energy independence” by 2020, essentially by providing states with more leeway to increase oil and gas drilling, as well as coal mining.
Where to begin? Let’s say you were given the goal of sending a space rover to Mars, and to accomplish this mission you were given a limitless supply of Lego blocks. Good, now go for it!
The essential problem with the Romney plan is that it presents the wrong tools for the job. The job is national energy independence, but oil, gas, and coal markets are global. Unless a Romney administration is willing to impose tight federal restrictions on domestic prices as well as imports and exports, we could rip up the whole United States from top to bottom for fossil fuels and U.S. consumers would still be at the mercy of global market forces, including disruptions caused by unrest overseas.
Romney to U.S. Troops: Uhhh…
The Department of Defense has been unusually vocal on the subject of energy for the past several years. The agency’s main point is that continued dependency on fossil fuels, both foreign and domestic, will cripple the effectiveness of the U.S. armed forces into the future.
There are two main thrusts to DoD’s argument. The first is fiscal planning. The Department of Defense is an energy consumer, and just like any other consumer, its ability to deploy resources is affected by price spikes and supply disruptions in the global fossil fuel market. Fuel diversity is the only long-term solution to this problem.
More importantly, continued dependency on fossil fuels is literally costing lives. The Pentagon has made no bones about the waste of human life involved in military interventions related to global fossil fuel supplies, as well as the U.S. troops killed while guarding fuel convoys, or put at risk because they are dealing with outdated, cumbersome supply logistics in conflict zones.
Hey pssst, Mitt, the Pentagon Already Has an Energy Plan
The Department of Defense is literally staking lives on the transition out of fossil fuels and into cleaner, safer, more reliable forms of energy. The legislative framework for this transition was established under the Bush Administration, and the Obama Administration has continued to make progress in this direction.
Here at CleanTechnica we’ve covered numerous alternative energy initiatives by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and DARPA (aw heck, just google “cleantechnica military”) since 2008. They touch all the bases, from utility-scale installations at U.S. bases to gear that can be stationed at forward operating bases and carried into combat zones, as well as foundational research for next-generation technology, too.
For a glimpse of what the energy future of America would look like under a rational energy plan, check out the Army’s Net Zero Vision. In the Net Zero program, public health, safety, and community well-being are vital factors in a broad program to wean Army bases off the grid and into sustainable energy, water conservation, and waste disposal strategies.
Looking for signs of that in the Romney energy blueprint… still looking… let me know if you find anything….
Follow me on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.