Last week, Mitt Romney released a plan to reach North American energy independence by 2020 -- a possibility many believe is now plausible thanks to our booming natural gas and oil production. The platform involves opening up our coasts to more deep water oil exploration, handing over more control over leasing federal lands to the states, and approving the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, among other initiatives.
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical that we can ever actually drill our way to energy independence. But to get an expert take on the plan from someone who isn't skeptical, I called Citi's Edward Morse, whose own recent work seems to have influenced much of Romney's proposal. His March study, "Energy 2020: North America, The New Middle East?" is cited six times in the campaign's white paper, including the projection that more domestic energy production could create up to 3.6 million new jobs.
Morse had mixed feelings about Romney's energy agenda, which he called a "significant step," but also "incomplete." This is a transcript of our discussion, edited for length and clarity.
So what do you think of Romney's plan overall?
I think whether or not the staff in the Romney campaign did a lot of homework on it, they basically have the thrust of an unfolding reality right. And I think what's unfolding makes an enormous difference to the country and will make an enormous difference no matter who the president is. When you have this much natural gas and oil being produced in the country, it just changes the reality on the ground, and changes the constraints and possibilities that are being confronted.