"Does Romney Believe Global Warming Harms Humans? Depends on What the Meaning of the Word “And” Is — And What BS Means, Too."
Mitt Romney makes George W. Bush seem like Harry Truman.
Back in June, Climate Progress correctly reported that Mitt Romney said:
I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that…. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants AND greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.
These words seems straightforward. But apparently only for straight talkers.
You see, Politico misreported the quote very slightly, but just enough to upset team Romney aka the Twisted Talk Express. Their pro-pollution parsing is so convoluted that paraphrasing it would not do them justice. The Politico explains:
How much is the Mitt Romney campaign sweating the candidate’s stance on global warming?
This much: Late Monday, after enduring a blog-inflamed kerfuffle over the GOP presidential contender’s view on EPA climate regulations, the campaign reached out to POLITICO to ask for a change in a Romney quote — an “of” to an “and” — that had been published several times since early June without objection.
The offending quote: “I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants, of greenhouse gases, that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”
Romney’s campaign said that rather than “of,” the candidate had said “and.”
So the full quote reads like this: “I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”
Upon reviewing a clip of Romney’s June 3 remarks at a town hall event in Manchester, N.H., POLITICO concluded that the campaign is correct. It is correcting the stories in question….
The video is here. Romney clearly said “and” — not that it should matter one whit.
Romney campaign officials said the corrected quote — distinguishing between “greenhouse gases” and “pollutants” — represents an “important distinction” in his views on climate change and EPA regulation.
“Gov. Romney does not think greenhouse gases are pollutants within the meaning of the Clean Air Act, and he does not believe that the EPA should be regulating them,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “CO2 is a naturally occurring gas. Humans emit it every time they exhale.”
Talk about someone who doesn’t say what they mean and mean what they say.
But notwithstanding this attempt to waterboard the English language, Romney’s original statement does not depend on the meaning of the word “of.” First, as an aside, many people distinguish between urban air pollutants (that have previously been regulated) and greenhouse gases when speaking just for clarity’s sake, but that doesn’t mean they don’t consider GHGs pollutants. Not that Mitt has never said anything for clarity’s sake.
Second, Romney’s “clarification” has no bearing on whether greenhouse gases are pollutants within the meaning of the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court made clear in 2007 that if GHGs endangered public health and welfare, then the EPA needed to regulate them. Obviously GHGs do (see finding here).
Indeed, why would Romney have said in June, “it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases” if GHGs didn’t endanger either our health and welfare? Romney ain’t a “save the polar bear” guy.
I know you’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that Romney has changed his mind in a period of weeks. [In Romney time, a week is like a year for the rest of us -- in terms of how quickly (or slowly) his thinking 'evolves'.]
As TP Green reports, Romney said this week:
I believe we should keep our air and our water clean. And that we don’t want to have pollutants that are interfering with our health and damaging the ability of our children to enjoy good health. So no question we have to have standards that improve the quality of our air. And I support reasonable standards. … Do I support the EPA? In much of its mission yes, but in some of its mission no. The EPA getting into carbon footprints, and… [APPLAUSE] I think we may have made a mistake, 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. We can agree to disagree … My view is that the EPA getting into carbon and regulating carbon has gone beyond the original intent of the legislation. I do believe we should reduce the pollutants that harm our health.
Romney has little understanding of the Clean Air Act: A pollutant doesn’t have to directly harm your body to be a danger to public health and welfare and thus covered by the CAA.
Romney apparently has little understanding of the harm that global warming causes humans now — and how much worse that will be on our current path of unrestricted emissions. It is also worth noting research by Stanford’s Mark Jacobsen, “The enhancement of local air pollution by urban CO2 domes,” that shows how carbon dioxide quite directly harms humans.
Finally, Romney has little understanding of what the Supreme Court has been saying. In June, NRDC’s David Doniger explained:
Today’s decision in Connecticut v. American Electric Power throws out the lawsuit brought directly against the five upwind carbon polluters on the basis that it’s EPA’s job under the Clean Air Act to curb power plants’ dangerous carbon pollution. The Court’s decision expands on the four-year-old Massachusetts decision by setting forth the specific authority EPA has over power plant pollution.
The Court’s decision puts the spotlight squarely on EPA. The Court noted that the environmental agency has in fact begun to act since Massachusetts by making the scientific determination that carbon pollution is dangerous to public health and welfare, and has set standards to cut carbon pollution from new automobiles by 30 percent over the next five years.
The Court also noted that the EPA is finally moving towards action on power plants, noting the settlement of another case (New York v. EPA, see here and here) under which proposed carbon pollution standards are due in September and final standards next May. The agency has been meeting with stakeholders from industry, environmentalists, states, and others and is undertaking the technical and economic analyses to support standards.
Is Romney qualified to be President of the United States? That depends on your definition of the word “qualified.”