Politics & Policy

Romney: Hot and Cold on Global Warming

His positions have changed dramatically, and his convictions are unreliable.

Willard Mitt Romney these days could not be more explicit about abandoning President Obama’s carbon dioxide restrictions.

“Irresponsibly,” Romney wrote in an August 28 op-ed for the Foster’s Daily Democrat in New Hampshire, “the EPA declared carbon dioxide, the same carbon dioxide that humans exhale, to be a ‘pollutant’ that poses risks to human health.” He also observed: “Congress had the good sense not to compound our economic challenges by imposing cap-and-trade’s extraordinary costs on the American people.”

Romney’s website offers this carbon-friendly promise: “Mitt Romney will eliminate the regulations promulgated in pursuit of the Obama administration’s costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda.”

Well — surprise, surprise! Unlike this conservative cantata, Romney sang a totally different tune as Massachusetts’s liberal-Republican governor.

A recently exposed dossier from the 2008 John McCain campaign offers 200 pages of Romney’s self-contradictions, vacillations, and head-scratchers. His views on so-called “global warming” are just the tip of this non-melting iceberg of confusion.

McCain’s database includes Ryan Sager’s April 20, 2007, New York Sun story in which Romney embraces a 1940s fuel source. “Liquefied coal, gosh,” Romney said. “Hitler during the Second World War — I guess because he was concerned about losing his oil — liquefied coal. That technology is still there.”

Less bizarre were Romney’s 2003 comments to religious leaders. According to a March 25, 2007, article in the Los Angeles Times, Romney said he was “terrified” about “warming” and found it “quite alarming.”

From one RINO to another, Romney wrote then-governor George Elmer Pataki (R., N.Y.) in July 2003. “Now is the time to take action toward climate protection,” Romney declared. He suggested that a “regional cap and trade system could serve as an effective approach” for both states.

In 2004, Romney launched the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan, “a coordinated statewide response to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate,” as his office described it.

Romney’s Dec. 7, 2005 press release is most revealing. It announced that “strict state limitations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants take effect on January 1, 2006.”

“These carbon emission limits will provide real and immediate progress in the battle to improve our environment,” Romney said.

“Massachusetts is the first and only state to set CO2 emissions limits on power plants,” the communiqué noted. “The limits, which target the six largest and oldest power plants in the state, are the toughest in the nation and are designed to lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury from power plant smokestacks.”

“Romney Administration officials have elicited input from environmental and economic policy experts,” the release declared. “These include John Holden, [sic] professor of environmental policy at Harvard University and chair of the National Commission on Energy Policy.”

John Holdren is Obama’s science adviser. S. Fred Singer, a University of Virginia professor emeritus of physics and environmental science and the U.S. Weather Satellite Service’s founding director, calls him “a rabid environmentalist and collaborator of the notorious Paul Ehrlich.” Singer says Holdren misled Romney or his staff. “They consider CO2 a pollutant and mention it along with sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury — all real pollutants, injurious to human health. Clearly, they had no clue about the science.”

“Governor Romney is a global-warming alarmist, so much so that he initiated a cap-and-trade program in Massachusetts, resulting in the second-most-expensive electricity in the nation. Only New York, which subscribes to a similar policy, has higher costs,” the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels says. “He claims not to have signed on to the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but this was only after already imposing a similar program in Massachusetts.”

“While Romney may say that his position has changed on this issue, that is doubtful,” adds Michaels, a former Virginia State climatologist. “No one would choose such a green course, enlist such advisers, and then suddenly reverse himself. As president, he will revert to his more familiar green self. He made a clear point in his ‘victory’ speech in Iowa to mention renewable energy, which is code language for government subsidies to the inefficient electric cars no one wants, and nationalization of Massachusetts’s outrageously expensive electricity costs.”

“Romney’s press release should be taken in the context of more recent statements in which he has changed his views on climate change,” suggests Julian Morris, the Reason Foundation’s vice president of research and a visiting professor at Great Britain’s University of Buckingham. “The optimistic conclusion would be that he changes his mind in response to better evidence. The pessimistic conclusion would be that he changes his mind in response to the advice of pollsters.”

Americans who thirst for leadership driven by principles rather than polls should go see The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep, the finest actress in recorded history, masterfully portrays former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Her Majesty’s head of government dominates the United Kingdom, steady in her conservative convictions and convincing as she communicates them. As America drifts among the waves like a faded champagne cork, these memories of Thatcher’s rule trigger goose bumps.

America now ponders someone who is flexible on virtually everything — even the air we breathe. Clearly no Iron Lady, Romney is the Man of Foil.

New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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