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Huntsman Must Change Strategies to Rise

12:02 pm in Uncategorized by Heather Taylor-Miesle NRDC Action Fund

Former Governor Huntsman has once again said he accepts the reality of climate change. He told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour on Sunday: “Let me make it crystal clear. I’m on the side of science in this debate.”

He is now the only GOP candidate for the White House who stands by climate science. All the others have denied it from the start or changed their positions once they got in the race. Even Huntsman had a temporary lapse a few weeks ago, but he quickly cleared up any doubt that he sees climate change as a threat and believes humans have caused it.

Huntsman knows this position sounds reasonable to the moderate voters who will sway the presidential election. A recent Pew poll found that 63 percent of independents agree there is solid evidence of rising temperatures. And more than six-in-ten moderate and liberal Republicans say there is solid evidence of global warming.

But in the GOP primary circus, science gets no respect and Huntsman gets no love. Nearly every other candidate has been the flavor of the week, except for Huntsman. How can he finally get his day in the sun? By reminding voters his is a stable, consistent leader who doesn’t flip.

Huntsman hasn’t captured the limelight yet because he looks too much like Romney. He is another conservative – but not Tea Party, Mormon governor with a background in business. At a time when voters and party leaders are looking for the anti-Romney—even former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said of Romney “the brother just can’t bake the cake”—you can’t win by being more Romney than Romney.

Huntsman has to distinguish himself, and he can do that by emphasizing the very thing his opponent lacks: steadfast conviction.

Take the issue of climate change. In June Romney told a crowd: “I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that… And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.”
But then Romney’s commitment to scientific fact went the way of his positions on health care reform and collective bargaining: it flipped. In October 2011, he said: “My view is that 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.”

Huntsman, meanwhile, acknowledged the threat of climate change when he was governor of Utah and he acknowledges it now that he is a candidate for the White House. He holds his convictions for more than a news cycle and that counts for something these days. Our country is in upheaval, and voters are wondering where the adults are. Huntsman is an adult. Whether you agree him or not, he represents exactly what he always has. And in the face of a shifting economic and an uncertain future, stable, even-keeled leadership will sound good to a lot of voters.

But Huntsman can’t wait for voters to come to him; he’s got to do a better job of reaching out to them. If Newt Gingrich has stepped into the ring before you got your turn, you know your campaign strategy isn’t working. Huntsman should change it by emphasizing constancy.

Huntsman Flirts with Climate Craziness, then Returns to Scientific Reality

2:03 pm in Uncategorized by Heather Taylor-Miesle NRDC Action Fund

Former Governor Jon Huntsman is suffering from a case of always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride syndrome. He has watched as nearly every other GOP presidential candidate has taken a spin with frontrunner Mitt Romney.

First Tea Party darlings Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry had their chance to dance around the floor. Then Herman Cain was delivered into the spotlight with his economics-by-mnemonics plan. Now Newt Gingrich has stepped in for his match with Romney.

All the while, Huntsman has remained a wallflower. The man without an expense account at Tiffany’s or extramarital skeletons in his closet can’t get any love.
Maybe that’s why he tried flirting with the Tea Party crowd this week.

For months, Huntsman has been the voice of reason in a chorus of denial. Back in August, he famously tweeted: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

But in a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, Huntsman started to hedge. When asked if he thought climate change was caused by human activity. He replied: “I don’t know — I’m not a scientist, nor am I a physicist. But I would defer to science in that discussion. And I would say that the scientific community owes us more in terms of a better description or explanation about what might lie beneath all of this. But there’s not enough information right now to be able to formulate policies in terms of addressing it overall.”

The reaction was instant: the blogosphere lit up with reports of this apparent reversal on an issue that has become a conservative litmus test. The next day, Huntsman was out trying to set the record straight.

“Let me be very clear on this,” he said. “There is no change. I put my faith and trust in science. So you have 99 of 100 climate scientists who have come out and talked about climate change in certain terms, what is responsible for it. I tend to say this is a discussion that should not be in the political lane but should be in the scientific lane.”

Either Huntsman’s words were genuinely taken out of context or the response to those words made him realize he has more to lose than gain by toying with the Tea Party.

Huntsman knows the White House will be won with the help of independent voters, not the radical fringe. In August, Huntsman called Governor’s Perry’s climate denial a “serious problem” for the GOP. He told ABC news in August: “The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party – the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012.”

Huntsman has built his brand on this reasoned approach. He is the experienced businessman, governor, and ambassador who projects an air of calm, assured leadership. The trouble is so does Romney, and in a race for the White House, you only need one business leader with moderate leanings. Romney staked out this ground first, and Huntsman will have a hard time pushing him aside.

With Huntsman standing in Romney’s shadow, the public hasn’t gotten a chance to learn as much about him as I would like. He hasn’t been put to the scrutiny that the other rivals for Romney’s spot have been given, and I think that’s shame.

I would like to find more about the single GOP candidate who respects climate science, for on this issue, Huntsman actually represents a majority of independent and Republican voters.

A recent Pew poll found that 63 percent of independent voters agree there is solid evidence of rising temperatures. And more than six-in-ten moderate and liberal Republicans say there is solid evidence of global warming, up from 41 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, 65 percent of all Americans agree that climate change is a very serious problem facing the nation.

Huntsman seems to understand this, and that’s why I hope he gets his chance to be a GOP bride.

Another Romney Flip Flop: More Pollution From Cars and Trucks

12:33 pm in Uncategorized by Heather Taylor-Miesle NRDC Action Fund

Another day, another flip flop. At Sunday’s Mike Huckabee-hosted presidential forum, Republican candidate Mitt Romney offered up yet another flip flop, this time on reducing global warming pollution from cars and trucks. He said that he would “get the EPA out of its effort to manage carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and trucks.”

Back in 2004, then Governor Romney signed Massachusetts up to copy California in implementing carbon emissions standards for light duty vehicles. The car companies pretty much hated that because it created a dreaded “patchwork,” in which the standard would apply in about half of the states but not in the rest.

Luckily, the Obama administration stepped in. The President brokered a deal to come up with a single national standard to reduce carbon pollution, which the car companies, the states, unions, EPA, and environmental groups like NRDC could all agree on. He made it happen primarily through a rule issued by EPA, which reduces pollution, saves consumers money, and reduces confusion for industry. That program was so successful that last month, EPA proposed to extend and strengthen the program through 2025.

Back to Romney. Of course, no one likes a flip-flopper. But the truth is, sometimes it makes sense to change your mind. You get new information, like former climate-skeptic Richard Muller who came to his senses and realized the globe really is warming up. That’s what makes Romney’s latest flip flop so infuriating. Almost every bit of new information we have shows that the need to reduce global warming pollution is greater than ever and the dangers are worse than we previously thought.

And the rules that Romney once supported, but now decries, provide tremendous benefits. The new set of rules would save over 4 billion barrels of oil. Owners of new efficient vehicles would save up to $4,400 over the life of the vehicle. Since he doesn’t seem to have any problem with changing his positions, can we humbly suggest that the Governor just go ahead and switch back to the position that is good for industry, good for consumers and good for the planet?

The Race That Matters

12:27 pm in Uncategorized by Heather Taylor-Miesle NRDC Action Fund

If you’ve been following the cable news cycle, you’ve seen the latest sensational headlines about the Republican presidential contest: Newt’s surge, Romney’s stagnant poll numbers, Cain’s reassessment of his campaign. Amidst the news of the ups and downs of the horse race, you may be missing some of the most consequential news of our lifetimes.

Two sobering headlines truly deserve to drown out the political back and forth:

The first tells us the problem of global warming is undeniably real. The second tells us the problem is worse than we thought.

The world’s scientists are practically shouting from the rooftops. And yet, the candidates continue to play games, pretending that the science is iffy or that a handful of hacked emails somehow undermine the case for global warming. The science is clear. The thermometers don’t lie. And we are running out of time.

We are facing a serious problem. We need serious candidates. They can start by acknowledging that temperatures are surging, that weak-kneed politicians have caused U.S. efforts to stagnate, and that it is time for candidates to reassess their positions. We need a race to ramp up clean energy and ratchet down pollution. This — not the political ups and downs — is the race that really matters.

Can We Give “Job-Killing Regulations” a Rest?

12:49 pm in Uncategorized by Heather Taylor-Miesle NRDC Action Fund

Politicians love to go for the easy applause line and lately, in Washington, that has meant decrying “job-killing regulations.”

Republican candidates for president have all gone for this crowd-pleaser.

  • Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has promised to “tear down the vast edifice of regulations the Obama administration has imposed on the economy.”
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry claims he would halt all regulations and impose a sunset so that they would automatically expire.
  • Herman Cain claims that eliminating regulations would provide “an immediate boost for our weakened economy.”

Even President Obama has at times appeared to buy-in to this notion, ordering every agency to review its existing regulations to eliminate burdens on business, even though such analysis would have been completed when the regulation was first written.

It may be a crowd-pleaser, but it turns out that it simply isn’t true that regulations kill jobs. The Washington Post talked with some of the country’s top economists and experts on the relationship between job creation and regulations. The conclusion?

“Overall impact on employment is minimal.”

The truth is that regulations can impact jobs but don’t have much effect when it comes to employment. That means that a particular regulation might reduce jobs in one industry but create them in another. For example, a clean air regulation might reduce jobs at a dirty coal-fired power plant and create new jobs at a clean-burning natural gas plant. But, looking at the big picture, employers report that only 0.3% of layoffs are due to “government regulations/intervention.” That’s small potatoes compared with the 25% of jobs lost due to reduced demand for products and services in our weak economy.

While they may not have a big impact on jobs, regulations do have a big impact in a lot of other areas, namely in protecting workers, the public and the environment. So, let’s put “job-killing regulations” to rest. If our politicians are looking for new descriptions, how about “life-saving, people-protecting, society-benefiting regulations”? It’s not so catchy, but it has the benefit of being true.