The New York Times editorial board has a scathing piece today, on Mitt Romney, “Energy Etch A Sketch.” In particular, they point out that after erasing all of his sensible energy and climate policies as governor of Massachusetts, today, “the policies he espouses would be devastating for the country and the planet.”
Here’s an annotated version of the piece:
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney endorsed an aggressive program to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, pushed to close old coal-fired power plants and embraced wind and solar power. Then came his bids for the Republican presidential nomination, first in 2008 and now in 2012. On climate change as on other issues, he has transformed himself, bit by reactionary bit.
Today he is a proclaimed skeptic on global warming, a champion of oil and other fossil fuels, a critic of federal efforts to develop cleaner energy sources and a sworn enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency.
He’s so extreme now that he has actually pledged to kill existing fuel economy standards.
Mr. Romney has plainly decided that satisfying his party’s antiregulatory base is essential to his political future. But the policies he espouses would be devastating for the country and the planet. If there are doubts on that point, the most recent findings from the International Energy Agency should dispel them: The agency reports an alarming one-year increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, largely because of increasing coal use around the world.
The agency also said that keeping global temperatures below a dangerous threshold is “still within reach” if nations aggressively reduce fossil-fuel consumption while nurturing low-carbon alternatives. And where is Mr. Romney on that? Nowhere.
For details on the new IEA report, see “IEA Report: Natural Gas Is Not The Answer To Climate Problem, Existing Cleantech Is — And It Could Save $100 Trillion By 2050.”
The man who once worried about climate-driven sea-level rise in poor countries like Bangladesh now says things like “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” as if mainstream science were wrong and humans had nothing to do with it.
On coal, the governor who once stood in front of a Massachusetts coal-fired power plant and said, “that plant kills people,” recently whirled through Craig, Colo., talking up coal and accusing President Obama of making it “harder to get coal out of the ground.”
Here’s the video of Romney denouncing coal jobs:
The NY Times continues:
On oil and gas, Mr. Romney is wholly in the drill now, drill everywhere mode championed by House Republicans. If his spokesmen are to be believed, he would open up vulnerable and legally protected public lands to drilling. Despite his proclaimed belief in a competitive free-enterprise system — and his concerns about the deficit — Mr. Romney is determined to maintain the oil’s industry’s preposterous $4 billion-a-year tax breaks.
When Mr. Romney talks about energy, he means what he calls “real energy” — he-man energy like coal, oil and natural gas, not what he contemptuously dismisses as Mr. Obama’s “imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy.” Or as he once said, “You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.”
As Stephen Colbert said, “That’s right! You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it! Because if you put a windmill on top of your car, then where does the dog go? Stupid.”
Meanwhile, the self-described risk-taker who once touted clean energy as “an economic engine very much like biotech” now regularly denounces Mr. Obama for taking risks. His campaign organized a press trip on May 31 to the shuttered factory of a solar panel maker, Solyndra, which went bankrupt and took $535 million in federal loan guarantees with it. Mr. Romney attacked Mr. Obama for “crony capitalism” and, by implication, indicted the entire federal effort to jump-start nascent technologies.
Never mind that Solyndra is the only big failure so far in a broad $37.6 billion program that began under George W. Bush. Or that there is not a single important energy source in this country — especially oil — that has not received support from government subsidies. Never mind that there is no way this country is going to wean itself from foreign oil or address climate change without alternative fuels.
Mr. Romney has been especially eager to demonize the E.P.A. and environmental regulations Last fall he declared that “the E.P.A. has gotten completely out of control for a very simple reason. It is a tool in the hands of the president to crush the private enterprise system, to crush our ability to have energy whether it’s oil, gas, coal or nuclear.”
What Mr. Romney has either forgotten or chosen to ignore is that the clean water and clean air laws the E.P.A. is enforcing were passed by bipartisan majorities four decades ago when Republicans were still interested in protecting Americans’ health and the environment.
The idea that a politician, especially Mr. Romney, would change his positions for political gain won’t surprise anyone. But the costs of not getting energy policy right — America’s security, its global competitiveness, public health and the health of the planet — are much too high for such cynical business as usual.