The Romney campaign has released its first TV ad for the general election season and out of all the issues that could have been highlighted, it was energy that took center stage.
The ad, which aired Friday and will run in swing states Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina asks the question, what would a Romney presidency look like? The answer is "On Day One, President Romney immediately approves the Keystone pipeline, creating thousands of jobs that Obama blocked."
While the ad goes on to mention tax and healthcare reform, energy issues have clearly been declared a key battleground for 2012 as Republicans unite around their "all of the above" energy policy strategy that would leave all options on the table, sustainable or otherwise.
Obama has taken a lot of heat from environmental groups that claim he is too lax on fracking and off-shore drilling—but was applauded in January when he rejected Keystone's Alberta-to-Texas pipeline permit, saying the review process had been short-circuited.
The ad comes as Republican House members head home to their districts for recess, launching the 2012 American Energy and Jobs Tour, a series of events around the country aimed at highlighting what Republicans claim are the Obama administration's job-killing energy policies that place unnecessary restrictions on domestic development.
Over the past year, House Republicans have been highly critical of new EPA air pollution regulations and have pursued policies to make it easier for oil and gas development on public lands.
In a statement, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said:
"Next week, members of the House Energy Action Team will spread out across the country to highlight America’s domestic energy resources and the need to increase domestic production… America has the potential to become the largest energy producing nation in the world – which would power our economic recovery by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs right here at home.”
The tour starts Thursday with at a rig in North Dakota. Events will also be held in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Ohio and California, including a tour by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., of a Shell deepwater drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday.
Gas prices might be falling, but the energy rhetoric is just starting to heat up.
Joanna Foster is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. Her background is in ecology and evolutionary biology, and having always lived near water—be it Lake Michigan, the Indian Ocean or the North Sea—she is passionate about the conservation and restoration of this most precious resource. She is a regular contributer at the Energy and Environment blog at The New York Times, and her work has also appeared in OnEarth Magazine and at the American Museum of Natural History.