Imagining the Green Void of a Romney Presidency/Tea Party Congress Combo

Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

This is the second part in a two-part post. See the first part here

As we all know, Romney has said a lot of the more extreme stuff to pander to the Tea Party right; nobody thinks that he actually believes everything (anything?) he's saying on the campaign trail. Which gave rise to some speculation that he'd skew greener on certain issues once in office. This, I think, is a foolhardy assumption. As I wrote yesterday, in the wake of the end-of-Santorum news:

If Romney were to win the presidency, he'd continue to curry favor from his base. The great lesson of the Romney campaign is that the man has almost no principles of his own, harbors no pressing policy goals (other than to, ostensibly, dismantle the health care law that he built the precedent for) and that he'll say and do almost anything to prove his conservative cred. His prerogative is to appeal to the Republican hive mind, and that wouldn't change once elected.'

As leader of the GOP, he'll seek to become the sum of its parts. And right now, that GOP is animated by the will of droves of climate denying, anti-EPA, polluter-friendly mini-Santorums. In other words, so as long as the Tea Party faction remains the animating force of the GOP (which may not be long, of course), Romney will probably actually try to do many of the ridiculous things that he said he would do in order to get elected, even if he doesn't believe in doing them (and who knows whether he does or not on a given issue). Got all that?

Which would likely mean: Real cuts to the EPA, stifling the subsidies to clean energy, more drilling on public lands, a brand new Keystone XL pipeline pumping tar sands from Canada, and further inaction on climate policy.

As for Obama, I dunno, probably more of the same, for better and worse. With the safety of a second term assured, he'd give the go ahead for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases on existing coal plants, and he'd continue to talk a good game for investing in renewables and removing oil subsidies. It's feasible that he'd start pushing harder on climate without reelection looming, but I wouldn't count on it.

Regardless, the composition of congress in 2013 will likely not shift enough to make meaningful legislative climate progress possible. And it won't, either; not until the bloc of anti-clean energy, climate skeptic-laden Tea Partiers lose control of the House. They're the ones that pose the greatest hurdles to sensible green policies—not Romney.

Tags: United States

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