By SARA MURRAY
Mitt Romney's campaign unveiled a plan this week to give states broad control over energy exploration on federal lands within their borders, part of a bid that focuses largely on fossil fuels to lead North America to energy independence by 2020.
The Republican presidential candidate's plan would let states apply their own energy regulations and permit rules to federal lands, a move aimed at streamlining energy exploration in the US.
It also sets out to expand offshore-drilling leases in states such as Virginia and North and South Carolina and work more closely with Canada and Mexico to boost production.
Mr. Romneys goal is to establish the most aggressive leasing plan ever put forward, said Oren Cass, the campaigns domestic-policy director.
The five-year lease plan for offshore drilling calls for minimum production targets and progress reports to Congress.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to make our natural resources a long-term source of competitive advantage for our nation, Mr. Romney said in the campaigns white paper describing the plan.
In response, the campaign of President Barack Obama circulated a statement by Federico Pena, a former secretary of energy under President Bill Clinton.
Romney is expected to defend billions in oil subsidies while opposing efforts to use oil more efficiently. We will never reach energy independence by turning our backs on homegrown renewable energy and better auto mileage, he said.
US production of oil and natural gas has surged in recent years thanks to new drilling techniques, a trend that both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama say they want to encourage.
Amid a largely bleak jobs picture, the energy industry in places such as Texas and North Dakota has proved a rare bright spot.
The Romney plan focuses heavily on reducing red tape and expanding oil and coal production but offers few initiatives on green energy or environmental protection.
That is sure to invite criticism from Democrats who have already alleged Mr. Romney is beholden to oil-industry executives who have been generous campaign contributors.
Dow Jones Newswires