by Cora Currier and Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo linked the storm to a broader change in the weather. “I don’t call it ‘global warming’ because you trigger a whole political debate,” Cuomo said. “But the frequency of extreme weather is going way up.”
President Obama and Mitt Romney have been even more reluctant to utter the words “global warming.” Neither candidate mentioned climate change over four presidential debates and none of the moderators asked about it — the first time that’s happened since 1988.
Obama has barely spoken of it on the campaign trail, while Romney has mocked the president’s earlier promise to address climate change.
As reporters and scientists discuss what role climate change may have played in fueling the storm, we’ve looked beyond the candidates’ rhetoric — or lack thereof — to find out where they actually stand:
In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Romney cited Obama’s 2008 campaign promise on global warming. “My promise,” Romney retorted, “is to help you and your family.” The crowd laughed, then cheered.
Romney hasn’t always been clear, or consistent, about what he believes is causing global warming.
In October 2011 he said, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”
This September, he wrote that he believed “the world is getting warmer,” and “human activity contributes to that warming” but that there was a lack of scientific consensus on the extent of the problem. He reiterated his position that regulations meant to combat climate change could hurt economic growth.
Romney’s campaign focuses its environmental platform on “energy independence.”
To get the U.S. exclusively on North American oil by 2020, Romney wants to promote oil and gas production in the U.S. by opening new areas for drilling, and increase imports from Mexico and Canada, including via the Keystone XL Pipeline. Reuters recently profiled “Romney’s energy tsar,” the Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm, who helped produce Romney’s White Paper on energy policy. The plan doesn’t mention climate change, or outline steps to reduce oil consumption.
Renewable energy is mentioned, but Romney supports a hands-off approach to its development, saying that the government ought to support it through reduced regulation rather than “playing venture capitalist” and providing subsidies to green energy projects, like the oft-cited, now-bankrupt Solyndra.
Romney has also pledged to reform and repeal many environmental laws and regulations. For instance, he does not think the EPA should consider carbon dioxide a pollutant and seek to regulate its emission. He’s also said he will renegotiate Obama’s fuel efficiency standards with auto manufacturers.