As we swing into the fall elections, let’s take a quick look at the presidential nominees and their official stances on the environment. We’ll begin on the Republican side of the ticket with Mitt Romney this week. All the source material for today’s post came off the Official Mitt Romney for President website.
The first thing Enviro Girl noticed when she got on Mr. Romney’s site was that “Environment” is not listed under “Issues.” She read through all of the issues that she assumed may link to the environment and found nothing environmentally related under “Values” or “Health Care.” Under “Energy,” Enviro Girl read this:
Producing more domestic energy would create good jobs and bolster local economies in a wide variety of energy-producing regions that effectively “export” their product to the rest of the country. While countless jobs are engaged in the actual energy-production process, they are a small fraction of the full workforce that benefits. For instance, before the first barrel of oil is pumped out of the ground, entire industries are hard at work creating the equipment and providing the services used in drilling, production, and the long chain of supporting industries that brings energy from inside the earth to the consumer.
The ripple effects into the non-energy sectors of the economy are commensurately important. If instead of sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas we can send them to our own energy-rich centers, the nation as a whole will experience the economic benefits that we currently see other countries enjoying at our expense.
Okay, Mr. Romney wants energy production to be local instead of imported. That’s good. But he also puts a huge value on oil, with little support for renewable energy resources. In the fine print the site explains a few details:
Ensure that environmental laws properly account for cost in regulatory process. (Enviro Girl took this to mean that Mr. Romney would not like environmental laws to be too financially burdensome. She found no further clarification.)
Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview. (According to the EPA’s website, the proposal on the table is to set national limits on the amount of carbon pollution power plants, built in thefuture, can emit. The link between carbon emissions and climate change is accepted by the great majority of scientists, so Enviro Girl has to give Mr. Romney a FAIL on this one.)
Open America’s energy reserves for development. (Ask yourself, are we experiencing shortages or some other form of energy crisis?)
Expand opportunities for U.S. resource developers to forge partnerships with neighboring countries. (Does this partnership mean the U.S. will export more energy? Mr. Romney’s stated goal on his site is to produce more domestic energy.)
Support construction of pipelines to bring Canadian oil to the United States. (Enviro Girl reads this as confirmation of an oil-dependent energy agenda.)
Prevent overregulation of shale gas development and extraction. (This strikes Enviro Girl as premature since horror stories related to “fracking” crop up in the news on a regular basis. In 2000 shale gas provided only 1% of U.S. natural gas production; by 2010 it was over 20% and the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration predicts that by 2035 46% of the United States’ natural gas supply will come from shale gas. How can something becoming so widespread require LESS regulation?)
Enviro Girl also read this bit at the bottom of the “Energy” page, which further convinced her of Mr. Romney’s plans to develop nonrenewable energy resources:
However, we should not be in the business of steering investment toward particular politically favored approaches. That is a recipe for both time and money wasted on projects that do not bring us dividends. The failure of windmills and solar plants to become economically viable or make a significant contribution to our energy supply is a prime example.
Under “Regulation” Enviro Girl culled a few more points that could relate to environmental issues.
As president, Mitt Romney will eliminate the regulations promulgated in pursuit of the Obama administration’s costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda. Romney will also press Congress to reform our environmental laws to ensure that they allow for a proper assessment of their costs.
Ensure that environmental laws properly account for cost in regulatory process. (Enviro Girl now reads this to mean that the government should not tax or penalize polluters. Can you think of any other way to read this?)
Provide multi-year lead times before companies must come into compliance with onerous new environmental regulations. (As far as Enviro Girl can tell, it’s cheaper require less pollution than to clean up pollution.)
Adopt Structural Reforms (Vague, vague, vague, Mr. Romney.)
An agency may be able to conceive of ten different regulations, each imposing costs of $10 billion while producing at least as much in social benefit. Moving forward might sound like a great idea to the typical regulator. But imposing those regulations, no matter what the social benefits, has a similar effect to raising taxes by $100 billion. Regulatory costs need to be treated like the very real costs they are.
Impose a regulatory cap of zero dollars on all federal agencies. (Enviro Girl cannot decode this–anyone?)
Require congressional approval of all new “major” regulations. (This isn’t new.)
Reform legal liability system to prevent spurious litigation. (Enviro Girl says let the judges and courts decide what and who is liable, that’s not the responsibility of the White House.)
In closing, Enviro Girl will return to this quote: “But imposing those regulations, no matter what the social benefits…” She argues that there are HUGE social benefits in a clean environment. Perhaps if we took a more proactive approach to keeping the environment clean, we could actually alleviate the expense of constantly repairing the damage caused by unchecked polluters from all kinds of industries. Enviro Girl reads a pro-profit stance with very little concern for clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean food, long-term energy supply and biodiversity. If the environment is an issue for you, Mr. Romney does NOT appear to be your guy.
Tune in next week for an examination of Barack Obama’s stance on environmental issues.