I published this piece on March 22, 2012, after discovering that Governor Mitt Romney openly supported a Climate Protection Plan for the State of Massachusetts. This is significant as many of the Governor's policies bear significant similarities to the policies of the current Administration. I believe that the "Anybody but Obama" philosophy is by its very nature fallacious, and that every candidate must be properly vetted so we nominate a true conservative who believes in the Constitution and acknowledges that we as humans cannot create a utopia for the American people. --AAE
While governor of the State of Massachusetts in 2004, Mitt Romney enacted the “Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan.” Within the document, he did not commit to a position on global warming, climate change, or the human impact on it. Instead, he believed that regardless of whether or not climate change is really occurring, the Climate Protection Plan makes sense for the economy, quality of life and quality of the environment in the State of Massachusetts (see page 3 of the Plan). So Mitt Romney supports green actions not because they help protect the environment, but because they make good economic sense. Would he still feel the same way if he were President of the United States...that all these climate change initiatives (like funding renewable energy technologies—e.g. solar panels) make sense for the economy of America as a whole?
Here are some of the provisions of the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan:
- Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 75-85% below current levels in the long term (year not specified). (page 8) (By the way, their definition of GHG includes carbon dioxide, which is considered to be the chief GHG. Humans are therefore technically polluters.)
- Massachusetts committed $17 million to purchase renewable energy. (page 8)
- Acquire clean, fuel-efficient vehicles for the state govt fleet. (page 9)
- Stimulate the market for environmentally preferable products. (9)
- Encourage municipalities to purchase renewable energy. (9)
- Guide municipalities to think and act regionally. (9) (If taken to the national level, then the US would have to think globally which would be in line with the UN’s Agenda 21 thinking.)
- Urge communities to join the Cities for Climate Protection campaign. (9) (This is a United Nations program run by the UNFCCC supporting Agenda 21 goals.)
- Create a carbon dioxide registry with other states. (9) This creates a system compelling organizations to report their GHG emissions and for the government to then enforce compliance based on the information. “A carbon registry would help to address that concern by crediting companies for their measurable greenhouse gas reductions, and converting those reductions into credits that can be traded on a market, or saved for later.” (27)
- Create an emissions banking and trading program. (9) In my analysis, this is basically a fine on those organizations that do not meet government standards for GHG emissions. They use creative language to say that they are “buying credits” instead of paying a fine. See page 27 of the Plan to see a full description of the program. One particularly disturbing statement indicates that we may eventually have to comply with an international system for controlling GHG: “Many corporate leaders have come to believe that CO2 and other greenhouse emissions will ultimately be regulated, capped, and potentially taxed – probably through an international system.” Also: “Tradable credits could be generated in a variety of ways, including energy conservation initiatives, generation of solar or wind power, landfill methane recovery, composting, new recycling programs, forestry management, or new tree plantings.” (27)
- Implement a program to reduce the emissions of highly warming specialty gases. (10)
- Promote renewable energy through the implementation of the statewide Renewable Portfolio Standard. (10) This directs a certain percentage of retail electricity to be produced from renewable resources--4% in 2009, to rise 1% per year until told otherwise.
- Participate in and support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (10) Directs the power sector to reduce GHG by 10% by 2018.
- Bring new renewable energy technologies and systems to the market through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Renewable Energy Trust (“the Trust”) (10) This comprises five areas: Green Power, Green Buildings and Infrastructure, Industry Support, Education and Public Awareness, and Policy. See page 30 for more detail.
- Launch a partnership between the Office for Commonwealth Development and the Trust to fund climate change initiatives. (10)
- Work with utilities to promote residential energy efficiency. (10) Raise prices to reduce demand?
- Implement new appliance energy-efficiency standards. (10) Can suppliers support the new standards? What is the resultant increase in cost of the item for the people?
- Reducing the energy demanded by homes, offices, and industries. (10) Throughout this portion of the Plan it refers to “sustainable” designs, using language similar to that of the United Nations for their Agenda 21 and sustainable development.
- Consistent with the Romney administration’s Fix It First policy, the state is committed to aligning spending decisions with policies that encourage sustainable development by investing in areas where infrastructure already exists, focusing resources on the state’s existing roads and bridges, and encouraging people to travel in more climate friendly ways, especially via mass transit. (11) Using the term “sustainable development” puts the Plan in alignment with the UN’s Agenda 21 language.
- Encourage the demand for and sale of hybrid cars and other efficient clean vehicles. (11) This includesincentives to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles (who pays for the incentives?) and to implement stronger vehicle emissions standards.
- Help citizens working in tourism, agriculture, commercial fishing, aquaculture, the wood products industry, water supply protection, and other natural resource-based enterprises, to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. (11) It also describes the role of forests thusly: “Forests act as beneficial “carbon sinks” by temporarily removing and storing carbon dioxide. This keeps CO2 out of the atmosphere where it causes warming, which in turn threatens the long-term survival of the forest.” (11)
These next four points seem very in line with the UN’s Agenda 21.
- Promote a new forest vision that integrates carbon resource management with other natural resource goals. (12) The amount of carbon stored or sequestered by these activities will be measured and monitored over time to ensure that real carbon benefits accrue, and to better understand the long-term benefits of such programs. The state will focus on measures including:
- Tree selection that will both increase carbon storage and shepherd adaptation to climate change over time.
- Continued support for urban tree planting programs. Additional shade in certain urban areas mitigates the “heat island effect,” and an urban tree-planting program can help lower energy demandby diminishing the need for air-conditioning. Reducing the size of the heat island has the additional benefit of reducing the formation of ground-level ozone smog in our cities.
- Including carbon resource management as one criterion in the management plan of state forests and other public lands. The state will encourage similar practices on private lands affected by conservation restrictions.
- Renewed research on the role of controlled and uncontrolled forest fires in returning carbon to the soil rather than emitting it into the atmosphere. (46-47)
- Promote municipal strategies that preserve trees. (12) Encourage land and building development practices that preserve existing trees during construction, encourage the planting of native replacement trees, and emphasize reforestation of cleared land in and around developments. (48)
- Continue aggressive open space protection efforts. (12) Open space preservation can help discourage sprawl, reducing transportation emissions and acting as an important greenhouse gas sink. Massachusetts will continue its efforts to acquire and protect open space. This is the scariest point of all. Can eminent domain play into this—taking people’s property for the sake of protecting the planet? Can humans no longer expand (“sprawl”)? Has the government decided that humans have expanded enough? Is private ownership of land coming to an end?
- Make our farms full partners in climate protection and mitigation. (12) More locally grown food to reduce CO2 produced by transportation to market; use nitrogen fertilizers only when necessary; alter agricultural practices to reduce CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide; site wind turbines on farm land; convert marginally useful farmland to forest. (49)
Throughout his campaign, Mitt Romney has highlighted his experience as a businessman and has claimed it will help him make better economic decisions for the United States as President. I am not a businessman, so I will have to let the businessmen of America judge for themselves whether or not his Climate Protection Plan makes sound economic sense. I only have one question though: if his Plan truly made good economic sense, why does Massachusetts have to force agencies, businesses, and individual citizens to comply with its provisions? Wouldn’t the free market naturally embrace it if it made good economic sense?
I wonder if he also felt that his universal health care plan for the State of Massachusetts made good economic sense.
Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own, and do not reflect the opinion or official position of any US Government Agency.