GOP debate: Romney avoids stance on EPA air pollution rule

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.

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“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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP senators call for probe of federal grants on climate change Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Key ObamaCare groups in limbo | Opioids sending thousands of kids into foster care | House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for opioid treatments US watchdog: 'We failed' to stem Afghan opium production MORE’s (R-Ky.) resolution to overturn the regulation.

The six Republicans who opposed Paul’s plan included four from New England: Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteHeitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up Ernst, Fischer to square off for leadership post The Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP MORE (N.H.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt Skyrocketing insulin prices provoke new outrage MORE (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.