The smirk appeared on Mitt Romney's face near the end of his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. President Obama, he said, had "promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans" and to "heal the planet." Here Romney paused, giving the crowd in Tampa a moment to savor the fact that he was about to turn climate change – arguably the greatest challenge civilization has ever faced – into a joke. "My promise," he said, "is to help you and your family."
The smirk summed up everything you need to know about the GOP's addiction to fossil fuels. Even George W. Bush – a Texas oilman and loyal servant to Big Oil – paid lip service to the importance of clean energy and the risks of climate change. But what Romney and the Republicans are offering voters this November isn't a coherent energy plan. It's a suicide note.
The nut of Romney's plan, such as it is, goes like this: Because of technological innovations like fracking, America is awash in gas and oil that we're now able to reach. If we drill the hell out of everything, including protected public lands and fragile regions like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, America can emerge as an "energy superpower." This "drill, baby, drill" policy, the Republicans claim, will lower energy prices, create 3 million new jobs, add $500 billion to the gross domestic product, boost tax revenues by $1 trillion and strengthen national security by increasing "freedom from dependence on foreign energy supplies."
This fantasy is not only a blueprint for polluting the planet and speeding up climate change – it's also precisely the energy policy that David and Charles Koch, the billionaire conservative oilmen who have pledged $400 million to help defeat Obama, would advocate if they were sitting in the Oval Office. Indeed, America's leading fossil-fuel barons have lined up behind Romney, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into his campaign, as well as the shadow groups and Super PACs that are supporting him. During a recent stop in Texas, Romney raked in nearly $7 million during a single lunch hosted by ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and other oil and gas executives. As Justin Ruben, the executive director of MoveOn, puts it: "It's not a stretch to say that the fossil-fuel industry is attempting a hostile takeover of the U.S. political system."
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