Mitt Romney’s energy plan: what exactly does ‘off-limits’ mean?

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Without cars, we cannot travel between air-conditioned rooms to acquire or release money.Jaimito Cartero / Foter

Higher gas prices, rising electricity bills and diminishing fossil fuels: worry not, Mitt Romney has an energy plan (pdf).

Ah, but wait. Just how would Romney go about saving Americans from their energy-hungry selves?

For one, he wants to give the power to states to “oversee” the hunt for energy sources on federal lands within their borders (see page 8 of the pdf). There is an exception for “lands specially designated off-limits,” but overall this sounds bad from a person-who-likes-nature-and-animals perspective.

I assume this will make it easier for energy companies to dig, drill, carve and cut their way to more fuel/revenue/cheaper energy for Americans/profits/political donations. It must be something about the politics of working with state officials instead of federal officials. Are locals easier to wrangle? Or perhaps economically struggling states will happily give up a few hundred acres of unappreciated beauty for a buck, especially if they can’t pay for things like infrastructure, police, health care and whatever else puts fire to their budget dollars.

But let’s get back to that “lands specially designated off-limits” thing. That sounds very fuzzy. What does it mean? I don’t know. Maybe media organizations do? Let’s see!

>The New York Times kind of … well, not really … presumably gives us some kind of answer. Here’s the bit from the article: “A campaign document, however, said the proposal would exclude ‘lands specially designated off-limits,’ which presumably means national parks.” What? Presumably? What did the Romney campaign say, exactly? The thing about presumably is that it’s not certainly.

> It seems “The Ed Show” doesn’t think “specially designated off-limits” means anything. “This policy would open up national parks, national forests, state parks and state forests to oil companies for drilling,” an author oddly named The Ed Show Staff writes.

>Think Progress … nope. Its article asks the same question I did. “Even more worryingly, Romney’s plan is extremely vague when it comes to what might happen inside of parks. The text of the plan says that ‘lands specially designated off-limits’ are exempt from being turned over to the states. But what exactly does this mean? Does it mean places that are currently set off limits by law, like national parks and wilderness areas? Or does it mean only places that a Romney/Ryan administration would set off limits, thereby undoing decades’ worth of land protections? Would Romney go so far as to try to drill in our national parks?”

I dunno. Jeez.

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