EHS Management

Election 2012: Where Do the Candidates Stand on Climate Change?

Where do the candidates stand on EHS issues?


Issue: Climate Change
By Timothy P. Fagan, BLR Air Expert


Barack Obama: Will continue efforts to reduce carbon pollution and combat climate change.  In his speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the President stated “my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax.  More droughts, and floods, and wildfires are not a joke.  They are a threat to our children’s future.”


Mitt Romney: Will seek to stop regulation of carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.  According to Believe In America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, “the Clean Air Act was passed to protect us against pollutants that pose dangers to human health. It was not intended to control carbon-dioxide emissions, and is poorly tailored to that purpose. The Obama administration’s efforts to fit that particular square peg into the round hole of the Clean Air Act—essentially achieving the effects of cap-and-trade without congressional approval—threaten enormous economic disruption. Romney will work to amend the Act and remove carbon dioxide from its purview.”

The Facts: Climate Change
The issue of climate change and the validity of climate change science remains surrounded by controversy and debate that is zealously supported on both sides.  However, regardless of whether you are a believer or nonbeliever in the climate change issue, regulations have been and are currently being developed and implemented to monitor and control emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide (CO2).  On the other side, many states that had initially pledged participation in regional programs to control GHG emission have backed off those commitments.

  • A mandatory GHG reporting rule has been promulgated, requiring selected facilities that directly emit GHGs, certain fossil fuel suppliers, and GHG suppliers to calculate and report GHG emissions.
  • Standards have been established to limit CO2 emissions from certain motor vehicles.  However, GHG regulations for other types of mobile sources are not planned or are years away.
  • Regulations establishing major source permitting thresholds for GHG emissions have been finalized.  However, the regulations limit GHG permitting requirements to large emitters.
  • In March 2012, EPA proposed the first CO2 emissions standards for power plants.
  • The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  RGGI is an effort by several northeast states (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NY, RI, and VT) to collaborate to reduce GHG emissions through a regional cap-and-trade program. However, New Jersey has withdrawn from RGGI and New Hampshire has passed legislation that will allow it to withdraw under certain circumstances.
  • California developed CO2 cap-and-trade regulations.  The program was originally intended to be part of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a collaboration of western states (AZ, CA, MT, NM, OR, UT, and WA) to reduce GHG emissions However, all the states except California ended their participation in the WCI. 

Additional Resources:

Timothy P. Fagan is a Legal Editor for BLR’s environmental publications, focusing primarily on air quality related topics. Mr. Fagan has covered environmental developments with BLR since 2000. Before joining BLR, he spent 5 years in environmental consulting and was responsible for air quality permitting and compliance for a broad range of industries in both the private and public sector. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Villanova University and a Master’s degree in environmental engineering from the Pennsylvania State University.