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Markey: Romney’s an ‘empty chair’ on subject of climate change

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) says there’s simply no use trying to engage with Mitt Romney on climate change anymore.

Markey jabbed Romney by recalling Clint Eastwood’s rambling speech at last week’s Republican convention, where Eastwood used an empty chair to have an imaginary chat with President Obama.

“[Romney] actually used to talk about climate change when he was the governor of Massachusetts and not make jokes about it,” Markey said at a Thursday event hosted by The Hill.

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“But talking to that Governor Romney today would be like talking to an empty chair. There is no conversation you can have with him,” the Massachusetts Democrat added at the event on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention.

Romney backed state limits on power plant carbon emissions when he was Massachusetts governor. He also initially supported the state’s participation in a multistate cap-and-trade program for power plants.

Romney, citing concerns about costs, backed away from the program before it launched, but his successor, Deval Patrick (D), signed Massachusetts up for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The GOP nominee, on the stump, has bashed cap-and-trade proposals, and wants to nix the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, arguing the agency’s regulations will hurt the economy.

Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, looked ahead to the final stages of the presidential campaign.

“The issue of energy is going to be huge in the final eight weeks of the campaign and the president has a great case to make,” Markey said, citing the nation’s declining reliance on oil imports and other changes under Obama.

Other Democrats at the convention here have similarly expressed confidence that Obama has effectively parried GOP attacks on White House energy policies.

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