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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney And The Environment

Romney previously said Carbon Was Not A harmful Pollutant And Questioned The EXISTENCE Of Global Warming

July, 2011, Romney Said Carbon Is Not A Harmful Pollutant To Human Bodies. According to Mitt Romney says he doesn’t think carbon pollution threatens human health and would not green-light EPA climate regulations if he were in the White House. The GOP presidential candidate signaled the reversal to one of the Obama administration’s top environmental policies during a town hall meeting Thursday in Derry, N.H. This came about six weeks after he acknowledged during a campaign stop that global warming is real, a statement that won him praise from Al Gore. ‘I think we may have made a mistake,’ Romney said Thursday in response to a voter’s question about EPA regulating air pollution from coal plants under the Clean Air Act. ‘We have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions. I don’t think that was the intent of the original legislation, and I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies.’” [Politico, 7/18/11]

2004: Romney Hedged On The Existence Of Global Warming Saying “I’m Not A Scientist” And “I Don’t Know.” According to the Boston Globe, “As he introduced a new state policy to combat global warming, Governor Mitt Romney had a surprise for the environmentalists gathered along the Charles River Esplanade yesterday: Personally, he’s not sure global warming is happening. During a news conference at which he formally announced the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan, Romney said he decided not to take sides in the debate about ‘is there global warming or is there not, and what’s causing it.’ His hedging on the issue surprised some activists, who had praised the state plan for accepting greenhouse gases as a significant cause of global warming, a connection that the White House and Republicans nationally have sometimes tried to downplay. Though the new state plan points to a ‘consensus of climate change scientists’ who agree that an increase in greenhouse gases is causing global temperatures to rise, Romney attached a letter to the plan’s final version suggesting he remains unconvinced on the issue at the heart of the proposal. ‘If climate change is happening, the actions we take will help,’ Romney wrote. ‘If climate change is largely caused by human action, this will really help. If we learn decades from now that climate change isn’t happening, these actions will still help our economy, our quality of life, and the quality of our environment.’… Rather than get caught up in debate, Romney said, his administration decided to move forward. ‘I’m not a scientist,’ he said. ‘I read one book over the summer that said, ‘gee, global warming is happening for reasons unrelated to human participation,’ and other reports, far more, indicate, ‘no no, it’s very much driven by humans.’ Well, I don’t know.’” [Boston Globe, 5/7/04] 

2004: Romney Replaced “Global Warming” With “Climate Change” In A Governmental Report. The Boston Globe wrote: “Asked by a reporter at the news conference whether he had been pressured by the White House to water down the report, Romney said no. But earlier he mentioned that former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Whitman told him to refer to ‘climate change’ rather than ‘global warming.’” [Boston Globe, 5/7/04]

Romney opposes Environmental Policies

Romney Wanted To Aid Coal And Oil Production While Paring Back Environmental Regulations. According to The Los Angeles Times, “As a presidential candidate at a time when denying climate change and boosting fossil fuels have become articles of faith for most conservatives, Romney says he plans to aid coal and oil production if elected, pare back environmental regulations and place alternative energy on the back burner. In a March op-ed, he wrote that instead of backing ‘real energy,’ Obama pushed renewables such as wind and solar power. Romney has called for amending the Clean Air Act so that the EPA could not regulate greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide — a move his critics say would allow politicians, not scientists, to determine what is a pollutant. ‘I exhale carbon dioxide,’ Romney said in November in New Hampshire. ‘I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.’” [The Los Angeles Times, 6/13/12]

Romney Had No Environmental Policy Other Than Reining In The Clean Air Act And The Environment Protection Agency. According to The Los Angeles Times, “Romney’s gubernatorial record on energy and the environment has little in common with the positions he has staked out in the presidential race, those who knew him in Massachusetts say. The presumptive Republican nominee expresses doubts about climate science like the majority of his party, and his official website has no mention of environmental policy, except for reining in the Clean Air Act and the EPA. The gulf between his past actions and current rhetoric has many, including some Republicans, wondering which positions he would take if he won in November. Would Romney stick to an energy plan heavily tilted to boosting oil and gas development and reducing regulation? Or would he tack back to the moderate positions he once embraced as Massachusetts governor? …The Romney campaign says there is no contradiction between what he says on the stump now and what he did as Massachusetts governor, from 2003 through early 2007.” [The Los Angeles Times, 6/13/12]

Romney Not Supportive Of Public Lands

Romney Did Not Know “What The Purpose” Was Of Public Lands. According to Think Progress, “In an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal…Mitt Romney expressed his ignorance of why the United States owns and manages approximately 80 percent of Nevada’s land, most of it uninhabitable mountains and desert. In response to a question about whether he would sell public lands back to the state, Romney stated that that ‘I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land.’ ‘Unless there’s a valid, and legitimate, and compelling governmental purpose, I don’t know why the government owns so much of this land….But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable.’” [Think Progress, 2/03/12]

Club For Growth: Romney Proposed Easing Regulations On Wetlands. According to the Club for Growth, Romney “proposed easing decades-old state regulations on wetlands.” [Club for Growth, 6/7/11]

Romney Previously Opposed Fuel Efficiency Standards 

Romney Said He Would Find “A Better Way” Of Encouraging Fuel Economy That Increasing Fuel-Efficiency Requirements. According to The Detroit News, “On another issue, Romney said he would reconsider what Obama has called one of his key domestic achievements: nearly doubling fuel-efficiency requirements to 54.5 mpg by 2025. The Obama administration won the support of most automakers — including Detroit’s Big Three — for the 2017-2025 rules that will cost the industry $157.3 billion and add about $2,000 to the price of an average car. But it will save drivers $1.7 trillion at the pump. Romney said he’d seek ‘a better way of encouraging fuel economy’ than corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) mileage requirements ‘as the sole or primary vehicle,’ he said. ‘The best approach is to try and build vehicles that people want, rather than having the government telling the companies what they must make,’ he said. ‘I would work with the manufacturers to find ways to encourage fuel economy on the part of the consumer. But trying to have the manufacturer push the product on the consumer — that the consumer doesn’t want — is not the right approach.’” [The Detroit News, 06/05/12]

Romney Opposed Increasing CAFE Standards Because It Would Hurt Domestic Automakers. According to a CNN transcript, Romney was asked about CAFÉ standards. Romney said, “Well, it certainly adds to better fuel efficiency which is terrific and reduces dependence on foreign oil. That’s good. But to the automaker, it’s an anvil because it’s a new mandate coming from Washington saying, here’s the new number you have to hit. All of the vehicles that you’re making now are outmoded. You’re going to have to build new engines, new transmissions, new axels. All of these things have to be changed at the cost of tens of billions of dollars. Good luck. Now, it’s a benefit to the entire nation paid for by one industry that’s already in trouble. ROBERTS: So if you were president, would you seek to roll back those standards? ROMNEY: What I’d seek to do is to sit down with the leaders of the industry and unions and the state and congressional leaders and say, how do we help? How do we make sure that the schedule we put in place is one that can be met by the Detroit automakers. And number two, how do we make sure that tax incentives, tax policies, research and development incentives are all put in place so these companies can meet the standards and survive? The last thing is you want to do is sit back and say, great, we have wonderful fuel efficiency and all the cars are made in China.” [CNN, 1/15/08]

2008: Romney Said CAFE Standards Are “Mandates” That Will “Kill The Domestic [Auto] Industry.” According to a CBS transcript, Romney said, “What I’m against is saying to the automobile industry, here, you have this big problem, it’s an unfunded mandate. I’d like to make sure that if we’re going to put a mandate to improve fuel economy on cars — and I want to see our average fuel efficiency go up, up, up, that’s important to all of us for energy independence — but I want the federal government to be part of the solution rather than mandating a change that the domestic auto industry is going to suffer from without providing any help. And the preferred way of providing help is in helping develop the new technologies and helping share the cost of that. But there are others way, too, that we have to keep our mind open to. But we simply can’t sit back and say, well, too bad for Michigan. They’ve got these new, big mandates that are going to get laid on them. It will really kill the domestic industry, those jobs are gone forever.” [CBS, “Face The Nation,” 1/13/08]

Romney: “CAFE Has Some Real Problems. It Distorts The Market. It Penalizes Domestic Automakers.” According to a press release from the Romney campaign, in remarks at the Detroit Economic Club Romney said, “What does this mean for Detroit? Well, it means that the automotive fleet will have to become more fuel efficient. CAFE improved mileage initially, but the consumer has gotten around it over the last couple of decades. CAFE has some real problems. It distorts the market. It penalizes the domestic automakers. It can ignore technical realities. So before I would change the CAFE standards, I want to sit down with every major knowledgeable party and evaluate each of the alternatives. A good number have been proposed; let’s decide which is the best course by looking at the data and analysis, rather than by playing to the TV cameras Let’s not forget that a far more fuel efficient fleet must be part of our energy future. The issue is which is the least distorting way to achieve it.” [Press Release, 2/7/07]

Romney Cut Funding For Recycling

Romney Cut Funding For Programs That Reduce Waste And Increase Recycling By 78%. According to the Boston Globe, “In 2002, the state Department of Environment Protection received $15.8 million for programs to reduce waste and increase recycling, paid out of a fund made up of unpaid bottle deposits. But Governor Mitt Romney absorbed that fund into his general budget, and this year gave the recycling efforts only $3.5 million. ‘The Romney administration can bury our communities with these Mount Trashmores or refocus our recycling goals in the state,’ said Jay Rasku of Toxics Action Center, an advocacy group that works to prevent toxic contamination in communities.” [Boston Globe, 7/5/05]