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Mitt Romney Likes to Fire People

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Mitt Romney has once again reminded voters that he likes to fire people. On Sunday, he told Fox News he would fire three top Obama administration leaders because he says they "are on a mission to drive up the price of gasoline."

Romney called the leaders -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson -- "the gas-hike trio," and said they should be summarily dismissed.

Yet for all his executive bravado, Romney's claim that three Obama officials have caused gas prices to soar is as off-base as Newt Gingrich's promise to deliver $2-a-gallon gasoline.

I expected more market savvy from the candidate who claims to be the self-proclaimed business authority.

Does Romney really not understand the basic dynamics at work in the global oil market? Tensions in Iran and unrest in Syria are prompting Wall Street speculators to bet on higher prices. Meanwhile, demand in China, India and Brazil continues to grow, which is not surprising considering the number of cars in China alone has tripled in the last five years.

These are the primary forces that shape oil prices. Neither Secretary Chu's efforts to promote American clean-energy innovation nor Administrator Jackson's work to make our air safer to breathe has the ability to inform those prices. Not even Secretary Salazar's drive to open more lands for drilling and sell more offshore leases can do it.

We know because the number of oil rigs operating in the United States has risen more than 80 percent in the past three years and nearly 150 percent from 10 years ago. Last year alone, the United States produced more oil than any time since 2003. Yet all this activity couldn't protect Americans from having to pay $4 a gallon at the pump last spring.

Canada already lives with this painful truth. It is one of the world's largest producers of oil, yet its gas prices rise and fall just like ours do.

The only way to insulate ourselves from price spikes is to use less oil. The new fuel economy standards President Obama proposed, for instance, will help reduce our oil dependence. Within 20 years, better-performing cars will save drivers more than $80 billion a year at the pump while cutting our oil use by more than we imported from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2010.

Bus rapid transit lines, light rail and other transit options already save America 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year. If we extended mass transit options to more communities, we will generate greater savings -- in oil and money.

And yet these solutions never appear in Romney's gas-price plan. Instead, he belittles renewable energy by turning into a punch line. Last week, he started saying that President Obama "keeps talking about alternative energy; the real thing we need is an alternative president." On Sunday, he said Chu, Salazar, and Jackson are driving up gasoline prices "so they finally get their solar and their wind to be more price-competitive."

It's interesting that Romney thinks solar and wind energy belongs to the Obama Administration. In fact, wind and solar resources belong to all Americans and developing these infinite stores of energy will benefit our national interest.

American engineers are already at work designing the next generation of solar panels that will dominate the global market. Nearly 200,000 Americans work in the wind and solar industries, helping revive our pride in the "Made in America" label. And all our families benefit from relying on energy that releases zero pollution and causes none of the asthma or heart attacks that fossil fuels do.

Romney would have us turn our backs on these benefits. In my view, a candidate who would sell American innovators short and disparage one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy is the one who might find himself in need of a job instead of handing out pink slips.

 This post originally appeared on the NRDC's website.