Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Romney Calls Obama An “Anti-Energy President”

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Republican Mitt Romney campaigns in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania

Appearing in one of the most heavily-drilled regions of Pennsylvania, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney called President Barack Obama “an anti-energy president.”

Romney made his comments in Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, at a company that supplies water to natural gas drillers.

The Republican presidential candidate’s argument: under the Obama Administration, federal regulation of oil and natural gas drilling has increased, to the detriment of production. “For years, this technology, using fluids, fracking technology, to bring gas and oil out of the ground…[has] been regulated by the states,” Romney said. “But now this president has eight different agencies trying to fight their way to become regulators of gas extraction known as fracking. And the intent of course is to slow down the development of our own resources.”

The Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of Energy; Interior; Justice; Agriculture; Health and Human Services; and Securities and Exchange Commission have all regulated or investigated hydraulic fracturing in recent years. The Department of Defense plays a major role in shaping eastern Pennsylvania drilling policy, since the Army Corps of Engineers holds a vote on the Delaware River Basin Commission.

One instance where federal and state agencies are clashing over drilling regulation: Dimock, Susquehanna County, about 15 miles away from where Romney spoke. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has blamed Cabot Oil and Gas for polluting about a dozen homes’ water supplies, but allowed the company to stop supplying drinking water to those families in December, after Cabot complied with the terms of a consent order agreement. About a month later, the EPA effectively overruled the state agency, and supplied its own water to Dimock residents. Preliminary tests conducted by the EPA found no health threat in 11 homes’ water supplies.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Michael Krancer, has blasted the EPA’s involvement, calling the agency’s knowledge of the Dimock situation “rudimentary.”

In recent months, President Obama has pushed back against the argument he’s “anti-energy.” He has blamed his decision to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline on a “rushed” timeline determined by Congress, and fast-tracked a portion of the project. Obama said domestic oil production has increased during his tenure, and he gave natural gas drilling a ringing endorsement during his State of the Union address in January:

We have a sup­ply of nat­ural gas that can last Amer­ica nearly one hun­dred years, and my Admin­is­tra­tion will take every pos­si­ble action to safely develop this energy.  Experts believe this will sup­port more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.  And I’m requir­ing all com­pa­nies that drill for gas on pub­lic lands to dis­close the chem­i­cals they use.  Amer­ica will develop this resource with­out putting the health and safety of our cit­i­zens at risk.

The devel­op­ment of nat­ural gas will cre­ate jobs and power trucks and fac­to­ries that are cleaner and cheaper, prov­ing that we don’t have to choose between our envi­ron­ment and our econ­omy.  And by the way, it was pub­lic research dol­lars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the tech­nolo­gies to extract all this nat­ural gas out of shale rock – remind­ing us that Gov­ern­ment sup­port is crit­i­cal in help­ing busi­nesses get new energy ideas off the ground.

Romney’s appearance was billed as “an energy event” by the Romney campaign, but the candidate spent just two minutes discussing energy policy. Reporters from StateImpact Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette both tried to ask Romney about drilling regulation as he shook voters’ hands, but the governor ignored the questions. He did, however, answer a query about whether or not Augusta National, the golf club hosting the Masters golf tournament, should allow women to become members.

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