Mr. Romney, What is Your Plan to Tackle the Climate Crisis?

by: Blaine Skrainka

August 30, 2012

Tonight, the Republican National Convention will welcome its now official nominee for President of the United States, Mitt Romney. After a delayed start due to Tropical Storm Isaac — and despite some unhappy Ron Paul supporters — the delegates have been tallied in favor of the former Massachusetts governor. Tonight, Romney will take center stage to accept his nomination and “re-introduce” himself to the American electorate.

Romney on the campaign trail

Mr. Romney’s moderate policy initiatives during his time in office have been a taboo subject on the campaign trail. Instead, Team Romney has done its best to avoid speaking of his gubernatorial  experience altogether, instead touting his leadership skills gained in the private sector as CEO of Bain Capital. Much of the reason for the strategy to focus on Romney’s private sector experience is to show that he has a pro-business mindset, and thus knows better how to start the engine of job growth. Whether or not that is a compelling argument, another reason to avoid promoting Romney’s governorship is because of the relatively progressive policy positions he took at the time. It remains the elephant in the room at the convention (no pun intended).

As Mitt Romney was forced to stumble to the right during the Republican primaries, his positions became increasingly confusing, and at times downright contradictory. This especially includes the candidate’s stance on climate change. Romney has evolved his tone rather drastically on the subject, and provided little in the way of a plan forward.

Mitt Romney’s governorship of Massachusetts began with some promising green initiatives including ambitiously pushing to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, one of his lead environmental advisers now has a top post at the E.P.A. under President Obama. But in one of the first signs of his to-be Presidential bid, the Governor tacked to the right and abandoned his green ambitions.

That was in 2007. A few years later, well into his pursuit to the Presidency, Romney’s public stance was this:

“Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that, but I think that it is. I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans. … What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”

Sadly, that actually remains a progressive point-of-view relative to his G.O.P colleagues

Showing once again his awkward sense of humor — if we can even call it that — Romney quipped, “I exhale carbon dioxide, I don’t want those guys [the E.P.A.] following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.”

So what do we know today about the candidate’s policy position on combatting climate change? Well, not much. Cue Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan at the RNC

From the Washington Post:

“Whatever Romney’s muddled views on climate, there’s less ambiguity from his new running mate, Paul Ryan. Already, climate skeptics who were nervous about Romney have lauded a 2009 op-ed in which Ryan criticized Obama’s EPA for categorizing carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Among other things, Ryan attacked the work of climatologists, suggesting that scientists might even be engaged in a conspiracy of sorts.”

A few clues can be found in the Romney/Ryan “Plan for a Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence.”  The 21-page pamphlet fails to mention, even once, the following words: climate change, global warming, sustainability. Green energy is mentioned exactly one time, but in the context of decrying Barack Obama. The Romney campaign website is also silent on the issue of climate change.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do not have solutions to the climate crisis because the former finds it politically untenable to take on this issue, while the latter flat out denies the science.

Does this plan benefit the middle class (as it is titled), or rather, oil, gas, and coal executives? What the campaign explicitly states in their energy plan is that the Romney/Ryan ticket supports expanding offshore development, expediting the Keystone XL pipeline, and championing the natural gas boom through hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan refuse to endorse a plan that puts a price on the negative externality of emitting carbon. The duo also says that they will not support government investment in green infrastructure and technologies as to avoid “picking winners in the market.” They make no mention of ending the tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

Climate change is already having devastating consequences around the globe. Ninety-eight percent of climatologist say that global warming is real and we are responsible. The International Energy Agency warns that we have less than five years until man-made climate change is irreversible. So Mr. Romney, you have our attention tonight, and we want to know: What is your plan to tackle the climate crisis?


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