(Newsroom America) -- Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is set to declare that under his leadership the U.S. can become energy independent by 2020.
Romney will lay out his plan during a campaign stop at a truck and supply business in Hobbs, New Mexico, Thursday, Reuters reported.
In seeking to draw a major distinction between the kind of energy policies he will support if elected and those of President Obama, Romney will propose opening more federal lands to oil and gas exploration, as well as territory off U.S. coastlines, all areas that Obama and Democrats have traditionally closed to energy development.
The speech is designed to return Romney to one of his campaign's core issues - the economy - a message that has been drowned out in recent days by controversy surrounding Senate candidate Todd Akin, a U.S. congressman from Missouri whose comments about "legitimate rape" and abortion have triggered calls from Republicans, including Romney, to drop out of his race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Clare McCaskill.
Romney's energy policies center around the production and use of carbon-based fuels that environmentalists say is causing global climate change. Reuters said Romney is laying out his plan two days after consulting with oil industry executives who contributed to his campaign in Texas.
Republicans are eager to ramp up domestic energy production which they say is necessary to meet the country's needs and wean the U.S. off of supplies from volatile regions around the world. Also, they say increased production would cut deeply into the 8.3 percent unemployment rate, pointing to North Dakota, where a boom in oil production has boosted state tax revenues and helped drive down the jobless rate.
Romney is slated to say his energy plan will create 3 million new jobs over eight years in energy and other sectors, and is a cornerstone of an overall employment creation plan he says will amount to 12 million new jobs.
"I want every American who wants a good job to be able to have one," Romney told supporters at a fundraising event in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday.
According to a "white paper" released by his campaign, a centerpiece of his energy policy will be to allow states to manage individual energy development projects on federal lands within their borders. Under current policy, the federal government controls development on these lands, and the Romney campaign says that, under Obama, energy development projects have fallen dramatically.
Romney plans to argue that allowing states to issue exploration permits will speed the process, the paper said.
He also will say he plans to strike an energy agreement with Canada and Mexico that will enhance supplies and production. That will include construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project from Canada to Texas, a project that has been delayed under Obama.
"I'm going to take advantage of our energy resources: Oil, coal, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar. North America will be energy independent by the last year of my second term," Romney said.
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