Flush with millions of dollars in campaign cash from the fossil fuel industry, Romney has developed an energy plan devoted almost exclusively to oil, gas, and coal production. Meanwhile, he has mocked climate change in speeches and has called vehicle efficiency targets that would dramatically reduce petroleum consumption “extreme.”
But in 2005, while governor of Massachusetts, Romney’s number one energy priority was to lower oil use through efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy promotion. In a 2005 interview with Hardball’s Chris Matthews, Romney outlined his strong desire to lower oil consumption — including offering government incentives for efficiency measures:
ROMNEY: It‘s going to be a tough winter, for two reasons. One, the price of heating oil is going to be high, and number two, we are not going to have as much natural gas as we are used to, and that‘s because of what‘s happened in the Gulf. As a result, people are going to have to turn down their thermostats, we are going to have to do a lot in terms of insulation and conservation, and we‘re going to have to also have financial support from the state government and the federal government, and we‘ve just put in place a program to put in tens of millions of dollars in support for the poor, for those who are on fixed incomes and that are poor.
Ultimately, however, we have got to learn to use a lot less oil in this country, and that‘s efficiency. That‘s conservation, that‘s automobiles that use less energy.
Today, Romney has completely reversed course on this position — even while polls show that far more Americans support promoting renewable energy and efficiency instead of fossil fuels.
This dramatic change is not surprising considering the amount of money Romney has taken from the fossil fuel industry. According to a New York Times analysis, pro-fossil fuel groups have donated $13 million directly to the Romney campaign or to political action groups supporting Romney. That compares to just $78,000 for the Obama campaign.
In addition, outside interest groups have spent $153 million on campaign ads promoting oil, gas and coal while criticizing renewable energy.
And so, Romney has tailored his message accordingly, now saying that more oil production is the answer: “The best thing we can do to get the price of gas to be more moderate and not have to be dependent upon the cartel is: drill in the gulf, drill in the outer continent shelf, drill in ANWR, drill in North Dakota, South Dakota, drill in Oklahoma and Texas,” he continues repeating.
In fact, history has shown that more drilling will not necessarily lower gas prices for Americans. An Associated Press analysis of 36 years of data showed no statistical correlation between increased drilling and lower gas prices. Even today, with U.S. oil production at its highest level since 1997, gas prices continue to hover near historic highs.
According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, the only way to protect Americans from gas price spikes is to use less oil through efficiency and conservation — exactly what Romney wanted to do before he outsourced his messaging to the fossil fuel industry.