Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama: The Ultimate Green Showdown

Ars Skeptica via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Santorum is out, Gingrich's campaign has noisily imploded like some surly dying star, and, sorry, Ron who? So that means it's Mitt "1%" Romney (which describes both his financial status and the percentage of voters who actually like him) who will become the Republican presidential nominee, and who will begin a campaign against Barack Obama starting ... now.

Yes, it's election season, and that means that it's time for the media to commence its grand tradition of Romney vs. Obama features that will doggedly seek to dramatize any differences, however meager, between the two men: Who's better on foreign policy? On health care? Who's the better orator? Who would average ol' voters rather have a beer with? See in a swimsuit?

Since this is Treehugger, we'll of course be jumping into the 'who's greener' arena. Unfortunately for the sake of manufactured drama (which I've done my best to heighten with the headline, big fonts, and exclamation points), the answer is, clearly, the candidate that is not promising to roll back environmental protections, cripple the EPA, approve the Keystone XL "on day one", and who has not publicly expressed doubt that climate change even exists (if only to sate the anti-science thirst of right-wing radio hosts and the Tea Party base). I mean, there's just no contest; apologies if that empties this particular political face-off feature of dramatic tension—but Obama doesn't have to do much to be "greener" than Romney. A cinderblock is greener than Romney.

But, if you want to see the stats anyway, here's a breakdown:

Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Mitt Romney!

-As governor, once proudly touted Massachusetts' efforts to rein in coal pollution
-Now, proudly touts his Tea Party-friendly message that we should hobble the EPA
-Calls for more coal power
-Once, as a presidential candidate, explained that he believes that human activity is causing global warming
-Once, a couple weeks later, explained that the earlier thing he said wasn't true and that scientists don't actually know if there's such a thing as global warming
-Vociferously supports more drilling, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline
-Mocks clean energy and energy efficient cars
-Opposes any policies that would limit carbon pollution

Pete Souza, WhiteHouse.gov/Public Domain

Barack Obama!

-As president, once supported serious efforts to limit carbon pollution
-Now, rarely mentions climate change at all, though he will occasionally slip the term into a speech to remind his base that he allegedly still views the rapid overheating of the planet as problem
-As president, squandered perhaps the best window to pass meaningful climate policy
-Touts erstwhile GOP slogan "all of the above" strategy on energy
-Currently supports more drilling, even in sensitive areas
-Supports clean energy, included billions of dollars of funding for R&D in the stimulus bill
-Supports clean, high speed rail; more stimulus cash
-Enacted tougher CAFE standards to make vehicles more efficient
-Has mobilized EPA to enact stricter rules on industrial pollution, greenhouse gas emissions

Obviously, there's no real comparison when you collect and contrast the achievements and stated positions of each. Obama obviously stands for greener stuff, even if many progressive enviros are wildly disappointed by his presidency. But I've followed the primary race pretty closely, and I can't even recall a single green policy that Romney has touted from his record.

'But the more interesting question to ask is what would the actual impact of a Romney presidency be, versus a second Obama term. For that, continue on to Page Two:

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

Tags: Barack Obama | United States

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