Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains silent as Gina McCarthy, his “green quarterback” during his days in the Massachusetts Governor’s Mansion, steers President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency toward new regulations on energy.
McCarthy, Romney’s former environmental adviser, now ranks high within Obama’s EPA and is advocating for the agency to move forward with new regulations, including Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or MACT, mandates. As The Daily Caller has previously reported, the Utility MACT regulations, if finalized and implemented, would force coal-fired power plants to install giant scrubber-like appliances inside smokestacks to capture and cleanse carbon particles before their atmospheric release.
The upgrade costs would fall on company employees and coal miners, possibly in the form of layoffs, as well as on businesses, which could expect to pay more for energy.
The EPA has apparently ignored the Obama administration’s own Small Business Administration, which has argued to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson that her agency “may have significantly understated” the economic “burden this rulemaking would impose on small entities.”
The Obama administration recently announced plans to delay implementing the Utility MACT regulations because, McCarthy says, the EPA has been drowned in a “backlog” of other regulatory matters. Fuel Fix, a news website anchored by energy reporters from the Houston Chronicle and other Hearst newspapers, reports that McCarthy, speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, said the EPA was supposed to deal with the Utility MACT regulations decades ago. She added that the EPA plans to continue moving forward as soon as it can.
“We are in the final stretches of rules that are significantly important for public health,” McCarthy said. “We must continue, and we will.”
McCarthy served in Romney’s administration as undersecretary for policy at the Executive Office for Environmental Affairs. In addition to exercising oversight of Massachusetts farmlands, open spaces and forests, McCarthy created the state’s first “climate protection action plan.” National Journal labeled her Romney’s “green quarterback” in September.
Romney’s campaign wouldn’t comment on McCarthy’s EPA involvement. Instead, a campaign official pointed to criticisms of EPA in Romney’s jobs plan, and a comment he made in New Hampshire about EPA regulations back in July.
“We have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions,” Romney said in response to a voter question about the EPA’s decision to regulate coal plant pollution under the Clean Air Act. “I don’t think that was the intent of the original legislation, and I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies.”
Romney also lambasted EPA overreach in his “Believe in America” jobs plan. “The EPA has issued a 946-page ‘hazardous air pollutants’ rule mandating ‘maximum achievable control technology’ under the Clean Air Act,” Romney wrote. “While President Obama has repeatedly touted a ‘green’ economy as a key to job creation, the reality is that investment in renewable energy does not create jobs. To the contrary, an increase in ‘green’ jobs produces a much larger decrease in other jobs.”
Though Romney and his team are staying quiet about his “green quarterback,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign takes quick notice of Romney’s apparent inconsistencies on environmental policy, and of his refusal to denounce one of his former officials for her prominent role in the Obama EPA.
“This shows the liberal people that Mitt Romney has confidence in to make policies,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner told The Daily Caller. “That is part of the problem that is creating the economic disaster killing jobs in this country. This was Mitt Romney’s environmental adviser, and now she’s in Barack Obama’s EPA, pushing policies that are killing jobs.”
Perry isn’t the only critic questioning Romney’s conservative principles in this regard. FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon told TheDC that Romney can’t be trusted on invironmental policy. FreedomWorks is a conservative grassroots organization that has opposed Romney’s bid for president on the basis that he is not conservative enough for the job.
“This is basically our problem with Mitt Romney,” Brandon said in a phone interview. “This is very similar to the fact that, like we were hearing again last week, ‘uh-oh, Obamacare is based off of Romneycare’ and his advisers went and worked at the White House to get Obamacare done. It’s very similar and that’s been kind of our objection.”