Hours After Siding With States On Emissions Waiver, Romney Flips And Backs The White House

Last month, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson denied California a waiver that would have allowed 16 states to implement landmark automobile greenhouse emissions reductions.

In last night’s Republican presidential debate, all four candidates said they supported California’s efforts. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney emphasized that states should “be able to make their own regulations with regards to emissions.” He confirmed again later in the debate:

Q: Just so I’m clear, you said you side with the states. That means you side with Governor Schwarzenegger —

ROMNEY: I side with states being able to make their own decisions, even if I don’t always agree with the decisions they make.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/01/romney65.320.240.flv]

But Romney didn’t want to side with the environment for too long. The AP reports that “[a]fter the debate,” — and after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — “Romney’s campaign issued a statement in which he said that the federal government, not individual states, should set limits on carbon emissions.”

Romney’s alleged support of California’s emissions waiver is further discredited by the fact that on Jan. 4, he was skeptical of states’ efforts in an interview with the Detroit News Editorial Board:

[The energy bill] does maintain the distinction between light trucks and automotive (standards), which is encouraging, although it leaves open the door to states putting in place tougher standards and the EPA putting in place additional regulations.

For Romney, every problem has multiple answers.

UPDATE: Romney’s statement below:

“As Governor of a state, and in the absence of any clear authority that the federal government had the ability to regulate CO2 emissions, I supported the right of states to address these issues. These sorts of more aggressive state-by-state regulations make most sense when dealing with regional issues like air quality. But when it comes to something like CO2 emissions, which are a global problem, not a California-specific problem, and when Michigan makes the same cars and trucks regardless of whether they’re bound for California, Vermont or (even) Massachusetts, it makes more sense to have one set of Federal rules to address CO2 emissions from vehicles rather than a patchwork of different State regulations.”