Romney surrogate: ‘He’s certainly not a denier' on climate

A Romney campaign representative said Wednesday that the presumptive GOP White House nominee is “certainly not a denier” of global warming, but attacked “unilateral” U.S. efforts to regulate emissions, arguing they will hurt the economy.

Linda Stuntz, speaking for Mitt Romney at a debate against an Obama campaign representative, 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.”

Stuntz is a founding partner of the Washington, D.C., law firm Stuntz, Davis & Staffier, P.C., and was a senior Energy Department official in the George H.W. Bush administration.

She noted that the United States has already been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from the peak reached years ago through increased auto efficiency and other steps.

“We are effectively de-carbonizing our economy,” she said.

She noted Romney’s support for nixing EPA’s power to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, and Romney’s emphasis on a federal role in fostering green energy technologies that’s focused on basic R&D.

Dan Reicher, the surrogate for the Obama campaign at the debate, said a binding global emissions treaty is needed, and defended the administration’s more muscular role in seeking commercialization of low-emissions technologies, including loan guarantees.

While talks on a binding international deal are moving slowly at best, Reicher touted the administration’s other multilateral efforts.

“In the meantime, it is important that this country be working with other countries on how to, in a very practical way, deploy clean energy technology, and that is what these series of Clean Energy Minesterials all over the world have been focused on in the last few years of the Obama administration,” said Reicher.

Reicher is a Stanford professor who until recently headed climate change and energy initiatives for the tech giant Google. He also served on President Obama’s transition team.

He noted — when asked about domestic policy — that the Obama administration is moving ahead with regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

The administration has been far more cautious when it comes to calls to set carbon standards for existing power plants and refineries, noting there is no timetable.

Reicher didn’t comment directly on the prospect of setting standards for existing plants, which environmentalists are seeking and call necessary as part of a policy to sharply curb emissions.

Reicher said he wasn't certain about rules for existing plants in a potential second Obama term, and indicated it could depend on what happens internationally.
“I do know that the pursuit is a binding international agreement, and obviously that would have to then flow back into the existing energy infrastructure in this country. I don’t know how existing plants under that would then be treated,” Reicher said.

“To some extent at least it would depend on where we ended up numerically, and where we ended up technologically under that binding international agreement,” he said.

Reicher and Stuntz squared off at The Newseum in Washington, D.C. Click here for more background on both.