Energy gets its own section in the Romney plan, beginning with the obvious first steps of maximizing the use of those resources we have readily at hand by approving the Keystone pipeline and by encouraging the construction of modern, relatively clean, coal-fired power plants by streamlining the permitting process. Rather than attempt to invest in individual firms such as Solyndra or in particular products such as Tesla electric automobiles, the Romney administration would support basic-science research as well as applied-science and engineering projects through a new agency, ARPA-E, which would be based on DARPA, the Pentagon’s highly effective research-and-development operation, which uses competitive bidding to focus the private sector’s best and brightest mad scientists on specific defense-related projects. This would not constitute a rollback of the federal government’s support for energy-related research and development, but rather a shifting of resources away from a process that has channeled billions of dollars to Democratic donors running firms destined for bankruptcy and directing them toward fundamental science, which is largely conducted at the university level, as well as toward competitively structured federal projects.
Among the specific regulatory initiatives that Romney proposes is revisiting the Clean Air Act, which was adopted to control the emission of pollutants but which the Obama administration intends to use to police carbon-dioxide emissions in the pursuit of its voguish and unproductive global-warming crusade. Romney intends to see that it is limited to its original purpose. One of the many ironies of this election is that Romney has a more aggressive global-warming proposal than Obama does, though he would never describe it as such: By modernizing and liberalizing the permitting process for new nuclear-power facilities, a Romney administration would take a very large step toward putting the U.S. electricity-generating infrastructure on a path that is more reliable, more economical, and, not incidentally, more environmentally friendly than the current system. Taken in the context of our generating infrastructure, those electric cars the president is so fond of are in fact coal-powered cars, the batteries of which simply store power from a coal-dependent power grid.