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Your Energy Vote--Scarcity or Abundance

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

With our Presidential candidates clear, there's no better issue to contrast our choice than energy policy. At MittRomney.com, Romney provides an energy plan for the future that balances economic growth and jobs, diversified energy development, and realistic environmental safeguards. His approach stresses a rational and streamlined approach to regulation, approval of the Keystone Pipeline, and opening America's vast energy resources for development. By freeing companies to capitalize on our oil, natural gas, nuclear, and alternative energy options, America can stimulate economic growth and provide sustainable energy jobs.

In addition to putting conservative principles in action, Romney hopes to contrast the president's record with his rhetoric, "The president has always been good at saying things that sound wonderful, but now we have not just his words but his record." Nowhere is that contrast more clear than in energy.

In an interview with CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo, Chevron CEO John Watson observed, "About 75% of the price of gas is really dictated by crude oil. World crude oil consumption is close to 90 million barrels a day. Most of the growth in demand is from China.... We're seeing little spare capacity,...tensions and pressures, primarily in the Middle East, where most of our oil is produced, and ...and restrictions in supply."

Natural gas in America has decreased in cost because of the dramatic expansion in supply. The same could be done with oil. Watson said, "There are some things that we can do in this country to spur supply on world markets. People forget we're the third-largest oil producer in the world. If we have policies that are pro development, we can affect world supplies if we used the resources that we have. For example, 85% of our continental shelf is off limits to development." Many reserves in Alaska and other federal lands are also off limits.

President Obama blames environmental concerns, but America has the safest and most-environmentally stringent rules in finding, developing and delivering oil to the market. Relying on foreign sources for most of our oil makes an environmental catastrophe more likely.

Our limited domestic production has security implications. By relying so much on Middle Eastern sources, we've given OPEC virtual monopoly control on the price of crude while transferring unprecedented wealth to regimes who are hostile to our interests and often knowingly fund “violent extremists." Terrorists must think us stupid!

President Obama loves to blame speculators. Yes, speculation adds an estimated 10% to the cost of oil, but he refuses to do anything to change the rules of the game or the supply of oil. Four billion barrels of oil are traded every day, but we consume only 83 million barrels of oil per day.

Why so much trading? With limited supply and the low cost of trading, speculation pays off. Increasing supply would impact speculation, but that takes time. Raising the energy trading margin requirements so that it's impossible to trade with little or no money down would immediately decrease excessive speculation.

The President misleads Americans on our oil reserves, claiming that we have only 2% of the world's reserves. It's true that we have only 20 billion barrels of "proven reserves," reserves that companies have explored for, drilled for, and can report to the SEC as their own assets. But this avoids the reserves that Obama has declared off-limits. The Institute for Energy Research reports that America has more than 1.4 trillion barrels of oil that is recoverable--fueling us for over 200 years at current rates of consumption. The largest deposits are located offshore, in portions of Alaska, and in shale deposits in the Rocky Mountain states. Developing those reserves means more supply, lower prices, and more jobs.

When President Obama took office the price of gas was $1.83/gallon. It is twice that now. His kind of "hope and change" taken all our "change" at the pump. It's time for a president who will bring more than words to our "all-of-the-above" energy plan.

Chevron CEO John Watson reminds us, "We have an energy system that's been built up over the last 100 years, and the principle behind it has been affordable energy. And we've seen oil, gas, coal, nuclear and renewables contribute to that energy mix. The idea that we can force energy into the system that's not economic before it's time, is not the policy that I think this country needs. What we need is open markets, consistent tax and regulatory policies, and to be clear about our priorities."

In response to big oils limited investment in the US, Watson asserted: "We have to spend money where we have access and the proper geology.... We invest where we have the incentive to do so." Which candidate do you think will provide the incentives and the consistent policies that can unleash our vast reserves in an environmentally responsible way, stimulate our anemic economy in need of affordable energy, and generate energy jobs that last?

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