With Congress in recess until September 10, energy issues continue to make headlines on the campaign trail last week, and the House and Senate will face a continuing resolution, intense debate on tax extenders, and other measures when they return.

The Congressional Budget Office released its latest Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022 August 22, finding that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire would result in a budget deficit of $641 billion for fiscal year 2013, while extending the tax cuts and avoiding immediate automatic spending cuts would result in a budget deficit of $1.037 trillion. Pointing to a shrinking domestic economy and rising unemployment, the report concludes that the country faces a recession unless policymakers find a way to avoid the fiscal cliff.

United States officials will lead ten trade missions across the world in the remaining months this year in an attempt to open opportunities for U.S companies looking to export their goods and services. The Commerce Department has scheduled a mission September 17-20 to Thailand and the Philippines, where companies are hoping to introduce their products and services into the renewable energy sector. Another to the United Kingdom October 15-17 will introduce U.S. companies to opportunities in the smart grid sector, and another to Israel from October 27-31 will introduce American firms to Israel’s expanding oil and gas market as well as natural gas opportunities in Greece and Cyprus.

In campaign news, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney highlighted a 21-page plan August 23 in New Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020. The key provisions, estimated to create 3 million jobs and $500 billion in Gross Domestic Product, include giving state unprecedented control over energy production on federal lands located within their borders; aggressively expanding offshore oil and gas leasing beginning with Virginia and the Carolinas; approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline and instituting fast-track approvals for energy projects with Canada and Mexico; expediting permits for seismic surveys to make an accurate national assessment of all onshore and offshore energy resources; implementing environmental statute and regulation reforms; licensing new nuclear power plants within two years; and eliminating the Obama administration’s stimulus program subsidies for renewable energy sources.

The previous day, the Republican Governors Association released its Energy Blueprint for America, advocating for streamlined regulations with cumulative cost-benefit analysis, expanded access to domestic resources, and an emphasis on state rather than federal leadership.