As the election year lurches on, Rick Santorum is emerging as an alternative to the assumed nominee, Mitt Romney (at least for the moment). So far, the super PACs have neglected to tear apart Mr. Santorum’s platform, so I thought I would take it upon myself to pick up the slack–at least in the green department.
Standing Up for Your Neighborhood Coal Giant
You may have heard Santorum talk about helping a local business fend off creeping regulatory tentacles. In the New Hampshire debate, he said, ”My grandfather was a coal miner. So I contacted a local coal company from my area. I said, look, I want to join you in that fight. I want to work together with you.”
That “local company” was Consol Energy, one of the largest coal mining outfits in the country. And, as Kate Sheppard reports, “joining in the fight” translates to being hired as a consultant for about $142,000 between 2010 and August 2011.
During his Senate career, Santorum received more than $73,000 in donations from Consol, and (surprise!) his legislative record was indistinguishable from the coal company’s agenda. He fought cap-and-trade, cheered on Bush’s coal-friendly Clean Air loopholes, and pressured the EPA to relax sulfur dioxide standards. More recently, Santorum attacked the new rules limiting mercury emissions from power plants.
Unmasking the Global Warming Conspiracy
What about Santorum and global warming? Most of the candidates take a relatively nuanced “skeptical” view. But not Santorum. At a campaign stop Colorado, he declared that he had never bought the “hoax of global warming.” In this, he one-ups Gingrich and Romney, both of whom have, at some point, sort of leaned in the general direction of maybe accepting climate change as a problem.
To any readers outside the States: Yes, our presidential candidates do argue over who has the strongest record of rejecting tenth grade science.
But let’s assume for a moment that Santorum sincerely believes climatology is a dastardly plot to dominate of our lives and our economy. The scale of this conspiracy is pretty impressive. It was apparently begun in 1824 by Joseph Fourier, who first proposed the greenhouse effect. Today, nearly every national Academy of Science and 97 percent of climate scientists scheme around the clock to deceive policymakers and the public.
One might think that such a vast fraud accusation would not be made lightly.
Renewing America’s Commitment to Hydrocarbons
Believing climate change is a hoax is convenient when your energy policy sounds like an ad for the American Petroleum Institute. Overall, Santorum’s platform is about average for the GOP:
- He favors an “all-of-the-above” policy–mainly fossil fuels, in other words.
- He would remove limits on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, and the ANWR. “Drill. Drill everywhere,” he told Glenn Beck.
- Keystone XL, he says, should be immediately approved. To not do so is “pandering to radical environmentalists who don’t want energy production.”
- Rather than eliminate the Energy Department, he would like to stop its investments in “technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and alternative-energy vehicles.” Why? According to his web site, the market alone should decide which energy products are successful.
- Interestingly, Santorum proposes getting rid of all energy subsidies. Presumably, this would include not just renewables, but also oil.
And here is Rick Santorum’s take on fracking:
[Environmentalists] are…saying…’Ooh, all this bad stuff’s going to happen, we don’t know all these chemicals and all this stuff.’ Let me tell you what’s going to happen: Nothing’s going to happen, except they will use this to raise money for the radical environmental groups so they can go out and continue to try to purvey their reign of environmental terror on the United States of America.
I could go on, but you probably get the idea. Rick Santorum may have charisma in Republican circles, but goes out of his way to attract the scorn of environmentalists, climate hawks, and fans of clean energy.
At the very least, you have to give him credit for being consistent.
[Image credit: Mark Taylor on Flickr.]