The United States was once by far the largest oil producer in the world. But after climbing steadily for over a century, its production peaked at 9.5 million barrels per day in 1971 — just one year after the passage of the National Environmental Protection Act and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency by the Nixon administration. The resulting bureaucratic mess has been so effective in stifling energy development that, despite the otherwise potent incentives of a tripling in the inflation-adjusted price of oil and a doubling in size of the world market, American crude oil production has been declining ever since, and stands at the dangerously low level of 5.5 million barrels per day today.
Gingrich seems to understand the depth of this problem well enough to propose the only adequate solution, which is abolition of the EPA. Romney, in contrast, has staffed his energy team with creatures drawn from the environmental-protection-litigation racket, whose essential interests require that the game play on, regardless of the cost to the nation’s security, prosperity, and freedom. While Romney’s regulators might be less pernicious on some issues than their sparring partners currently occupying the environmental-agency thrones — by approving the Keystone pipeline, for example — their one original proposal advanced thus far, awarding drilling permits preferentially to established companies using established technologies, is a formula for suppressing entrepreneurship and technological innovation.Those who hope for better from Romney’s energy advisers have only to look at their record; from 2001 through 2006 they held office with the backing of a Republican president, House, and Senate, and the imperative of a nation confronted by soaring oil prices and a petroleum-funded jihad. What did they accomplish?
Mitt Romney is a man of refinement. His personal morals are beyond reproach, and his family life is impeccable. Yet on the crucial issue that will determine the fate of the nation, and perhaps human freedom worldwide, he falls far short of the mark. Unless the Republican party can come up with an alternative candidate with a clear commitment to winning the energy war, Gingrich is the only choice.
— Dr. Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, and author of the book Energy Victory. His new book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudoscientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, will be published by Encounter Books in February 2012.