Mitt Romney has just announced his energy plan, a "bold" scheme to make the US self-sufficient in oil by 2020 by increasing domestic production and building the XL pipeline. There will mean even bigger subsidies for the oil industry, while tax credits for wind power will end.
There is only one small problem with Romney's plan, it can't possibly work because the US doesn't have enough oil reserves to meet demand:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s the question. We are drilling at a record pace but we’re doing so in a way that protects the health and safety and the natural resources of the American people. (Applause.)If Romney's plan for energy independence were possible we would be doing it already. George W. Bush was in the oil business. The GOP had eight years to implement the Romney plan for self-sufficiency. They invaded Iraq instead.
So that’s point number one. If you start hearing this “drill, baby, drill; drill, drill, drill” -- if you start hearing that again, just remember you’ve got the facts -- we’re doing that. Tell me something new. (Applause.) That’s problem number one.
Here’s the second problem with what some of these politicians are talking about. There’s a problem with a strategy that only relies on drilling and that is, America uses more than 20 percent of the world’s oil. If we drilled every square inch of this country -- so we went to your house and we went to the National Mall and we put up those rigs everywhere -- we’d still have only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. Let’s say we miss something -- maybe it’s 3 percent instead of 2. We’re using 20; we have 2.
That Keystone XL pipeline isn't the answer to 'North American' oil self sufficiency either. The real point of extending the pipeline through to Texas is so that Canada can then have the option of loading the crude onto tankers and selling it to China. It is a good move for Canada and for oil speculators but a terrible one for US consumers. At present, Canada can only sell the oil shale to refiners in Cushing Oklahoma, and they have to accept the market price there. With the XL expansion, Canada will be able to charge the US refiners what China would have paid for the oil, meaning "more."
This is the sort of business detail that slick money men like Mitt Romney make their fortunes from. For the rest of us, it means higher energy prices.
During the Iraq war, Atrios satirized this type of thinking as 'wishing for a magic pony'. Romney has expanded the Bush approach to turn it into a complete theory of government, a general theory of magic ponies. Per Romney, all the US need do to become self sufficient in energy is to believe that the oil reserves exist and they will miraculously appear out of thin air (like WMD in Iraq).
Belief in that type of thinking is perfectly fine for authors of trash self-help books and religious types. But we tried eight years of the Magic Pony approach to governance under the last Republican President, and we are still cleaning up the mess that pony left behind.