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A head-in-the-sand energy policy

Associated Press

When it comes to policymakers and the climate crisis, I've long believed there are basically three categories: (1) those who deny the problem; (2) those who recognize the problem; and (3) those who support taking concrete steps to mitigate the problem.

Mitt Romney, at least the current iteration of him, falls comfortably in Group #2. The Republican is willing to publicly acknowledge that the problem is real, and has no use for climate deniers, but just doesn't want to do anything to address the crisis.

This was evident when he chose his running mate -- Paul Ryan has consistently opposed climate change legislation, and appears to have some strange beliefs on the subject -- and it was even clearer yesterday when Romney unveiled his energy plan. As Stephen Stromberg noted:

According to a 21-page proposal his campaign released Thursday, Romney's vision is to achieve "North American energy independence" by 2020 by opening up America's Continental Shelf and federal lands for more drilling, and by approving projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline, which will move crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

The most obvious problem with Romney's latest pronouncement on energy is that there is not a single mention of the fact that the Earth is warming and human energy production is at least partially responsible for it. It's possible to favor expanding access to U.S. energy resources and addressing global warming; Romney just doesn't try.

It was bad enough that Romney's "plan" -- I use the word loosely -- was devoid of real policy details. As Simon Maloy joked, "This isn't even a 'plan.' It's a wish list with citations."

But nearly as troubling is Romney's reluctance to even consider real challenges. How will he address global warming? He won't. How will he try to reduce oil consumption? He won't. How does Romney explain why his plan will create 3.6 million job in the energy sector? He doesn't say.

Romney opposes investments in renewable energy, and believes wind and solar don't count as "real" energy, but is confident that even more oil drilling will solve our problems. So much for the push towards policy substance in the presidential campaign.