Somebody needs to tell Mitt Romney that he's already got Utah's electoral votes sewn up.
The fact that he was well ahead in the Beehive State was thought to be common knowledge. But it is hard to fathom why the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would make a Made in Utah energy policy his campaign message of the day Thursday unless he thought the state was somehow on the bubble.
In making a call for North America to be energy independent by the year 2020, Romney rolled out a plan that could have been cooked up at the Utah Republican Convention. It is based solely on the continued consumption and increased production of fossil fuels. It would let states, like Utah, which are much more likely to favor short-term job creation and tax-base boosting over long-term conservation, manage the leasing of oil and gas rights on public land.
The plan has little to say about any alternative to the drill, baby, drill approach to energy. It doesn't note that the percentage of foreign oil used in the United States is already on a downward path, from 60 percent in 2006 to 49 percent in 2010. And, according to the federal government's Energy Information Administration, it is on course to fall to 36 percent by 2035. As most of the remaining imports will come from the neighborly nations of Canada and Mexico, Romney's target of North American independence is already in sight.
The Romney plan also implies that the Obama administration is somehow sitting on the permits the oil industry is eager to snap up, ignoring the fact that both the amount of oil produced and the number of producing oil rigs in the country are up significantly in the last four years.
The plan makes only passing mention of the possibilities of wind, solar and other renewable sources. And it takes no note whatsoever of the many reasons why a wise 21st century energy policy would not just seek to free us of dependence on petroleum from far-away, and often unfriendly, nations, but to ease our dependence on fossil fuels altogether.
Romney does not mention climate change, air pollution or environmental risks of drilling, particularly the damage to, or depletion of, precious water supplies.
The plan ignores the fact that oil, even domestically produced, will still be priced based on a volatile world market.
And there is no mention of the best energy plan there is, conservation, in which the Obama administration has been a leader, and in which Romney, in opposing increased fuel efficiency rules for motor vehicles, is behind the curve.
It is hard to imagine that the level-headed, data-driven candidate Romney can't do better than this.