GOP platform: Block carbon regulations, expand offshore drilling

The Republican platform slated for approval at the party’s convention includes expanded offshore oil-and-gas development, opening Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling rigs and thwarting Environmental Protection Agency climate change regulations.

Early excerpts from the platform appear flush with Mitt Romney’s positions in calling for drilling in ANWR (which would require congressional approval), opening more coastal regions to oil-and-gas leasing, and other policies.

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The plan calls for approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. Romney has vowed to green-light TransCanada Corp.’s Alberta-to-Texas pipeline on “day one” if elected president, while the Obama administration is still reviewing whether to grant a cross-border permit.

While the outlines became apparent in platform committee discussions, the formal approval by delegates to the party's convention in Tampa, Fla., expected Tuesday, will bring the election-year energy contrasts between the parties into relief.

Republicans say White House energy policies place too many restrictions on domestic development.

Although the White House proclaims support for expanded drilling, President Obama’s Interior Department is making far fewer areas available than Republicans and industry groups want.

Interior’s 2012-2017 offshore plan does not allow oil-and-gas leasing off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts even though formal bans expired in 2008, focusing instead on more lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and, in the plan's latter years, off Alaska's coast.

Obama also opposes drilling in ANWR, while proponents say the industry is capable of tapping large amounts of oil while protecting the fragile ecosystem.

Romney has also called for stripping EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and other sources.

The platform, AP reports, bashes carbon regulations “that will harm the nation's economy and threaten millions of jobs over the next quarter-century.”

EPA has proposed first-time national carbon emissions standards for new coal-fired power plants, effectively barring new facilities unless they can trap and store carbon emissions, a technology that hasn’t been commercialized.

But carbon rules for existing plants are on a much slower track at EPA.

The fresh GOP push to nix EPA’s authority to regulate carbon arrives as a major scientific organization is sounding fresh alarms about human-induced global warming.

“There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities,” the American Meteorological Society said as part of a lengthy statement on climate change Monday.

The GOP platform more broadly calls for ending what Republicans call EPA’s “war on coal” and backs “increased safe development in all regions of the nation's coal resources.”

Romney opposes EPA’s new regulations requiring cuts in mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants, alleging alongside other Republicans that they are too aggressive and will harm the economy.

But advocates of the rules say they will bring huge public health benefits and spur jobs in plant retrofits and manufacture of pollution-control equipment.