By Jessica Goad
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today released his energy plan with a speech in New Mexico. One of the most controversial pieces of the plan would give states control over energy development on federal public lands, a policy that would likely allow energy companies more access to them, allow bypassing of federal public health and environmental safeguards, and decrease certainty for companies and the public.
It is an extreme proposal, especially from a candidate who admitted that he did not know the “purpose of” public lands. But an analysis of Romney’s top energy advisers, donors, and the ideas of the American Legislative Exchange Council may shed some light on the origins of this proposal.
A number of advisers and donors close to Romney own oil and coal leases on public lands, showing their business interest in opening these places to development:
- Romney’s top energy advisor is oil baron Harold Hamm, who made his $11 billion fortune developing shale oil in North Dakota. His company, Continental Resources, has permits to drill for oil on public lands, some of which were approved as recently as this month in Montana and North Dakota. Hamm also has ...