Romney: More drilling would bring energy independence by 2020

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – The campaign for presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney laid out a plan Wednesday for America to be energy independent by 2020.

On an embargoed conference call with reporters, Romney staffers touched on familiar themes they said would wean the country off imported oil and spark an economic boom at home. Namely, they called for fewer regulations and more drilling.

The staffers pointed to the revolution in drilling technology in recent years that’s unlocked an energy boom in this country, and contrasted that with President Obama’s support for renewable energy, which they said has failed to pay off.

“There’s incredible potential for the development of these resources, but it’s something President Obama has been doing his best to stifle,” said Oren Cass, Romney’s domestic policy director. “Governor Romney embraces this revolution.”

Specifically, the campaign called for states to have control over drilling on federal land within their borders, the opening of new offshore areas including off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts, and a streamlined and expedited regulatory process.

The campaign also laid out a list of benefits it said would come from obtaining energy independence, including the creation of 3 million new jobs and $1 trillion in government revenues.

But a recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, requested by Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, was less sanguine.

CBO said 70% of the nation’s oil and gas reserves are already available for drilling. Opening the rest, it said, would increase government receipts from an estimated $150 billion under current policy to $175 to $200 billion over the next 10 years.

When asked to explain the difference, a Romney staffer said the campaign’s projections were more inclusive and stretched out over a longer time period.

Romney is scheduled to highlight his energy plan in a speech on Thursday.

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