Mitt Romney plans to unveil an energy plan Thursday morning in Hobbs, N.M., that would allow states more control over the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders, as well as aggressively expand offshore oil and gas drilling — including along the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas — as part of a broader effort to reach energy independence.
The plan is bound to be contentious after the disastrous BP well blowout in 2010, which leaked millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and left 11 workers dead. The proposal may win votes in Virginia, where drilling would bring jobs and state revenues, but would be controversial in Florida, where offshore drilling has long been viewed as a threat to tourism.
The Romney campaign released the proposal, complete with a 21-page white paper, Wednesday evening as part of an overall energy plan that includes granting states more regulatory power over drilling on federal lands, revitalizing the nuclear power industry, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline to carry more Canadian oil to refineries in the United States.
Romney campaign officials emphasized the importance of opening more oil and gas drilling on federal lands, a theme that Mr. Romney is likely to trumpet Thursday on his visit to New Mexico, where the oil industry hopes to open more federal areas for exploration and production.
“What Governor Romney is proposing is that state governments, which already control the development of energy resources on their own and private lands within their borders, would also control the development of energy resources on federal lands within their borders,” said Oren Cass, the campaign’s domestic policy director, in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
The proposal will surely be controversial among environmentalists hoping to preserve lands like desert stretches of New Mexico where threatened species roam. A campaign document, however, said the proposal would exclude “lands specially designated off-limits,” which presumably means national parks.