A debate between the presidential campaigns last week provided a glimpse of how the environment would suffer under a Romney Administration. The Romney campaign continued its track record of staying out-of-step with voters on clean energy issues, dismissing support for green technology and pledging to boost support for Big Oil.
Representing the Romney campaign was Linda Gillespie Stuntz, former Deputy Secretary of Energy, who currently lobbies for BP and sits on the board of directors for Shell. The fact that the Romney campaign would turn to a lobbyist for Big Oil to present his energy policy should tell you all you need to know about his support for clean energy initiatives.
Stuntz reaffirmed Romney’s opposition on clean energy – she emphasized his desire to end the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy projects, which would devastate and industry that has made great gains in recent years. The PTC has equipped the wind industry to power the equivalent of over 12 million American homes and fostered economic development in all 50 states.
Despite the PTC’s success, Romney believes the tax credit has “outlived its usefulness,” pledging to phase it out on the grounds that the free market should be responsible for picking technologies. At the same time, he considers it a “dangerous gimmick” to cut subsidies to the oil industry, which has conveniently poured $1.4 million into his campaign this year.
Romney’s contradictory record on energy policy reared its head at the debate, and made clear his lack of a coherent, consistent energy position. Romney said last summer that “we don’t know” what’s causing climate change – rejecting the ample scientific evidence backing human-induced warming. Despite this, Stuntz tried to assert at the debate that that he is “certainly not a denier” of climate change.
Still, no matter what Romney actually believes about climate change, he doesn’t plan on doing anything about it: during the debate, the Republican campaign argued firmly against regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. “The notion that the U.S. can act unilaterally on carbon emissions and make a material difference in global greenhouse gases is not realistic,” Stuntz said. “It will only hamstring our economy.”
At the same time, Stuntz lauded Obama’s fuel economy standards and energy efficiency targets as the solution to lowering emissions. “We are effectively de-carbonizing our economy in ways that we had not foreseen,” she said. But these carbon-cutting initiatives are the very same ones that that Romney vowed last December to roll back, muddying the waters even more on Romney’s actual energy policy.
Stuntz also said Romney staunchly supports an expansion of domestic oil production and would throw open access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Obama representative Dan Reicher, however, said this was a “line in the sand” for the current administration, which would continue to block the refuge from oil drilling. “Governor Romney’s bet is essentially on being able to drill our way out of this,” Reicher said.
Further in line with Romney’s drill now, drill everywhere credo, his campaign also promised to greenlight the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline on “day one,” rejecting Obama’s State Department-approved plan to continue the review procedure into 2013 as “irrational.”
If you need any more proof that Mitt Romney is in the tank for Big Oil, look no further than his spokesman during this debate. It’s clear that a Romney administration would prioritize the interests of oil and gas at the expense of cleaner, more common-sense alternatives and the welfare of middle class Americans.