Environmentalists’ brief flirtation with Mitt Romney appears to be reaching its conclusion. The Republican presidential candidate told voters in New Hampshire on Tuesday that he does not believe carbon is a pollutant.
“We have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions,” he said. “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.”
The EPA is currently drawing up new rules for carbon emissions, which an overwhelming consensus of scientists believe contribute to climate change, after the Supreme Court determined in 2007 that carbon was indeed a pollutant and worthy of regulation.
Romney has acknowledged recently that climate change is both real and man made, a move that drew praise from Al Gore given the Republican field’s anti-science bent. His quote about carbon doesn’t exactly reverse this position: he was very specific in saying carbon is not a direct threat to people’s bodies in the sense that breathing it won’t kill you. But scientists have clearly identified it as a massive indirect threat in that it causes climate change, which threatens millions of people around the globe with effects ranging from drought to rising seas.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.