By Ben Geman - 01/08/12 03:56 PM EST
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.
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.