Beliefs don’t matter, policies do

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The Business Roundtable hosted a debate on energy policy today, with representatives of President Obama and Mitt Romney on hand to make their case. Speaking for the Republican was Linda Stuntz, a lawyer who worked at the Energy Department under Bush/Quayle, who assured attendees that Romney is “certainly not a denier” of global warming.

That’s true, he’s not. In fact, a year ago, the former governor was willing to admit, “I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that.”

And while that’s likely reassuring to those who hope Romney would be a sane president, the key detail here is easy to overlook: it doesn’t matter what Romney “believes.” The only thing that matters is what he intends to do as a matter of public policy, and in this case, his surrogate made clear he doesn’t intend to do much of anything.

[Stuntz] said Environmental Protection Agency regulations will “hamstring” the economy, and made the case that greenhouse gases should not be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

“The notion that the U.S. can act unilaterally on carbon emissions and make a material difference in global greenhouse gases is not realistic,” said Stuntz, speaking at a debate on energy hosted by The Business Roundtable. “It will only hamstring our economy.”

So what would a Romney administration do to address the climate crisis? According to his surrogate this morning, there’s no real need for action because greenhouse gas emissions are already declining.

I’ve long believed there are basically three categories of politicians when it comes to the climate crisis: (1) those who deny the problem; (2) those who recognize the problem; and (3) those who support taking concrete steps to mitigate the problem.

Romney wants folks to know he’s in Group #2. While it’s marginally better than Group #1, as a practical matter, there’s no real difference – either policymakers will work to address the crisis or they won’t.

Romney is “certainly not a denier” of global warming? Great. But unless he’s prepared to actually do something about it, I don’t know why anyone should give him credit.

Mitt Romney

Beliefs don't matter, policies do

Updated