Memo to Mitt: If it’s not knee-jerk by now to reject Obama EPA regulation, then you’re not ready to be President in 2013.
From The Hill:
All the GOP White House candidates have made EPA a punching bag, but things can get trickier when it comes to specific policies.
On Sunday frontrunner Mitt Romney avoided saying whether he backs a major new EPA rule to limit power plant pollution that blows eastward across states lines, but also noted that he backs the goal of the regulation.
“I am not familiar with the specific regulation as it applies to New Hampshire, but I do believe we have a responsibility to keep the air clean and we have to find ways to ensure that we don’t have the pollution of one state overwhelming the ability of another state to have clean air,” Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said Sunday morning during the Facebook/NBC News debate ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Romney made the comment when asked whether EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule represents “fair regulation” or “overregulation.” The rule finalized last year mandates new limits on power plant emissions that generate smog and particulate pollution in the eastern half of the country.
It has come under attack from many Republicans, and the House voted last year to scuttle the measure. But separate plans to kill the rule failed in the Senate in November, when lawmakers thwarted Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) resolution to overturn the regulation.
The six Republicans who opposed Paul’s plan included four from New England: Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), and Olympia Snowe (Maine).
Romney, on Sunday, used the question about the rule to tout his support for the continued expansion of U.S. natural gas production.
“If we want to help people in New England have not only homes and businesses that emit less pollutants into the air, and therefore we would have cleaner air and also have lower-cost energy, let’s build out this natural gas system so that we can take advantage of that new, enormous source of American economic strength,” Romney said.
UPDATE: Here’s the transcript of Romney’s remarks:
JOHN DISTASO: Great, for Governor Romney, I’m gonna stay with you for one moment here. On the– talking about regulation. One of your prime, New Hampshire supports, Senator Kelly Ayotte, has said, quote, “New Hampshire should not be the tailpipe for pollutants from out of state power plants.” Many Senate Republicans attacked an EPA rule limiting air pollution that affects downwind states. But she and others, including Scott Brown, joined with the president and Senate Democrats to block a repeal effort. Now is this an example, this cross-state air pollution rule, of fair regulation? Something that we in the Northeast are very concerned about, in terms of– pollution? Or is this over-regulation, job-killing over-regulation?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I’m not– I’m not familiar with this specific regulation, as it– as it applies to– to New Hampshire, but I do believe that we have a responsibility to keep the air clean. And we have to find ways to assure that we don’t have the pollution of one state overwhelming the– the– ability of another state to have clean air. I know in my state of Massachusetts, we– we receive a lot of air from the rest of the country, obviously, given the winds coming from the West of the country to the East.
And so the responsibility in our state, was to get the cost– get the– the emissions from our power plants down. That’s one of the reasons why we moved to natural gas. And– and really, by the way, this– this discussion about energy and security and getting the cost of gasoline down. The– the big opportunity here is not just a new oil distribution system, but it’s natural gas.
We have massive new natural gas reserves that have been found in Pennsylvania, in– in North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas. Natural gas cheap, a fraction of the cost per BTU of– of oil. If we want to help people in New England have– not only homes and businesses that emit less pollutant into the air, and therefore would have cleaner air, and also have lower-cost energy, it’s let’s build out this natural gas system so that we can take advantage of that new enormous source of American economic strength.