What A Romney Presidency Could Do For The Environment...Good, Bad, Or Uncertain

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The Mad Tea Party: from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in which Alice meets the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse.

Last year I invited a look at environmental impacts of the 'coming Republican domination of all three branches of the US Federal government.' The intentionally ominous title of that post A Glimpse Into What Life Will Be Like Once The Coming Republican Administration Kills EPA was followed by this lead.

There's an old saw about how post-colonial governments are prone to following the worst examples set by their former colonial masters. China having surpassed the USA at it's abandoned game of filthy manufacturing, 1950's style, the pendulum returns. Republicans have taken a cue from their Chinese masters, publicly stating their desire for a return to the days of choking factory smoke and burning rivers (suffering bad air and water in return for any kind of paycheck easily appeals to a broke and hungry middle class). To reach their goal, Republican presidential candidates want USEPA to "die."

With Mitt Romney awaiting his ordainment, it's time to look for early signs of his prospective approach on matters of the environment. But first, presented below, is a partial list of conditions needed for a such Republican 'earthquake' to occur in November of 2012.

Future drivers for the GOP-sweep scenario.
This scenario presumes that if Mitt wins, Republicans also take control of additional seats in both houses of Congress. Tea Party types especially.

Young people, as in the last mid-term elections, fail to vote in numbers proportional to their demographic weight. Voting offers not enough narcissistic supply for their taste.

Minority and women's rights as well as environment, which, back in the 60's and early 70's, were viewed by many young voters as part of a progressive whole, are cast by broadcast media as distinctly separate narratives. (The wedge effect always seems to work so well that way for Republicans.)

Multiple, extraordinary incidences of severe weather do not occur before and during the election. (A hurricane hitting Tampa during the GOP convention would not suffice to overcome climate denial, though such would be good fodder for comedians.)

What a GOP Congressional sweep and Romney Presidency might do for the environment.

Mr Romney seems like a bottom-line guy who is used to delegating details and making simple choices. Were a future-President Romney's high-level staff and agency appointments replete with conservationists, avid hunters, and fishermen - not just lobbyists from the resource extraction industries - there could be a struggle for what decisions choices are presented and what numbers back them up. A flip flopper could always flip the right way at the last minute, you know!

League of Conservation Voters provides pertinent examples of Romney's flops on climate at this link..

On the other hand, the big carbon's money is clearly on Romney. League of Conservation Voters paints the picture:

In the first three months of 2012, the API has already outspent all but the biggest super PACs, and has outstripped nearly every other trade organization in political spending and public relations. Their $4.3 million in the first three months of 2012 has kept on message against President Obama’s energy plan, blitzing voters with ads urging them to support the Keystone XL dirty tar sands pipeline, and accusing Obama and the members of Congress of attempting to “punish” the oil industry by trying to end $4 billion in tax loopholes for Big Oil companies already raking in $137 billion in profits.

API president Gerard has been leading the charge, personally contributing $2,470 to pro-oil presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and raising many times that by hosting fundraisers for the candidate. Gerard’s family members have contributed an additional $4,970 to Romney’s 2012 campaign.

Romney has accepted a total of over $750,000 from oil and gas industries, and the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future has accepted another $1 million. At the same time, Romney has appointed an oil shale billionaire as an energy adviser, endorsed Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget preserving tax breaks for multi-million dollar oil companies, and campaigned against the fuel efficiency standards a majority of Americans support.

Read more at The Washington Post.


A Romney victory will make it challenging for other business sectors to have their voices heard on matters of environmental risk, and especially on climate. Utilities, for example, have three ways to go on dealing with EPA's newly proposed mercury emission standards. As I pointed out in Matter Hatters Of Coal vs The Children: Which Side Will Business Leaders Take?
Utilities and their suppliers will have to decide in which camp they stand: 1) proactive and seeking first-in advantage; 2) reactives who will comply when told; or, 3) foot-draggers.
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The foot-dragging style prevails in Congress now and has dominated the most powerful lobbying organizations for over a decade. That typically involves trade groups suing EPA, or their Congressional supporters threatening the Agency's budget and holding nasty hearings. EPA, incidentally, not being a Cabinet level agency, is regularly sued. Last time I looked it was the most sued Federal agency. Again, more progressive voices from within business must be heard from to initiate a shift from foot dragging to compliance, at least, and back to negotiated rule making.

If more circumspect voices from industry were not fairly heard by a President Romney, well, then, it will not be a fun time for anyone in the US business world to have a job title like VP of Sustainable Growth because so little of the growth will be...sustainable.

Caveats.
No one can precisely predict a single future; and I've only roughly outlined one scenario, without giving it any odds.

Young voters have the power steer the future away from this awful sounding scenario.

The role of more enlightened and progressive world business leaders has yet to be played out. Hence, the uncertainty displayed in my title. This is one of the more critical, unrecognized factors.

Tags: Corporate Responsibility

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