WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he aims for the United States to become energy independent by 2020.
In a campaign stop Thursday in New Mexico, Romney said, "This is not some pie in the sky kind of thing. This is a real, achievable objective."
His speech comes in tandem with the release of a white paper titled "For a Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence" outlining a six-point energy agenda that entails empowering states to control offshore energy development; opening offshore areas for energy development; pursuing a North American energy partnership; ensuring accurate assessment of energy resources; restoring transparency and fairness to permitting and regulation and facilitating private sector-led development of new energy technologies.
"We're not going to have to buy oil from the Middle East, Venezuela or any other place we don't want to," Romney said in his speech Thursday. "We may even be an exporter of energy, considering all our resources."
But U.S. President Barack Obama has said that under his administration U.S. dependence on foreign oil has decreased.
"On energy, one of the things I'm most proud of is the fact that we've actually reduced our dependence on foreign oil below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years," Obama told donors in New York Wednesday, Environment News Service reports.
While Romney's plan doesn't provide an exact timeline except for a subject heading of "energy independence by 2020," the white paper says the benefits would include: the creation of more than 3 million jobs, with more than 1 million in manufacturing; the creation of more than $1 trillion in revenue for federal, state and local governments; lower energy prices for job creators and middle-class families and enhanced national security through freedom of dependence on foreign energy supplies.
"Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet," Romney said. "That's oil and gas and coal and we're going to make it happen. We're going to create those jobs."
Romney's plan includes approving the Keystone XL pipeline bringing oil from Canada's oil sands to Texas, granting states more regulatory power over drilling on federal lands and revitalizing the nuclear power industry.
But U.S. Rep Ed Markey, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement that Romney's plan would reduce the safety of drilling operations, hand control of taxpayer-owned land to oil companies and protect $4 billion in tax subsidies for oil companies while allowing 40,000 American wind energy jobs to disappear in the next year.
"This is an 'oil above all' plan that was written by big oil before it was ever read by the American people," said Markey. "This isn't a serious energy plan. It's a serious threat to our coasts and to America's competitive role in a 21st-century energy economy."