WASHINGTON -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney broke with Republican orthodoxy this summer, telling a crowd in Manchester, N.H., that humans are at least somewhat responsible for climate change. Now Think Progress reports he's reversing his position, arguing "we don't know what's causing climate change."
"My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet," he said at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. "And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us. My view with regards to energy policy is pretty straightforward: I want us to become energy secure and independent of the oil cartels."
The remarks come in stark contrast to his stated energy policy priorities.
"I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that," he said at a town hall this June. "It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors."
With his fellow GOP presidential contenders engaging in different shades of climate denial, Romney has distanced himself from those remarks. In an Oct. 3 interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader posted online Thursday night, he elaborates on his new position on global warming.
"I say it's probably happening, all right? I think it's happening," he said when questioned about a passage in his 2010 book "No Apology" that deals with climate change.
"You said in June you believe the world is getting warmer and that humans have contributed to that," noted one reporter, quoting a line that comes directly from his book.
"And continue to the next line after that," Romney pressed.
"It's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors," said the reporter.
"I say in the book three things," said a frustrated Romney. "One, I believe what I said before, I think it's getting warmer. Two, I believe we contribute to it. And three, I don't know by how much -- a lot or a little. And I am not willing to adopt multitrillion dollar programs to reduce greenhouse gases in America. They don't call it America warming, they call it global warming."
As president, Romney added, he would "aggressively develop oil and gas, as well as use our coal resources." Nuclear too would be a priority, though he said that it would require a long lead time.
"Of course I like the renewable resources, but I'm not in favor of sending checks for half a billion dollars as a venture capitalist to various favored solar companies," he said, in a conspicuous reference to Solyndra.
Romney's climate denial puts him in line with most every other contender in the Republican presidential field.
Herman Cain has called the very premise of climate change "a scam," while former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has referred to it as nothing more than a "trend," accusing the left of "taking advantage" of it by creating "a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm."
Back in 2009, meanwhile, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) argued on the House floor that the very concept of global warming is faulty because "carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of nature!"
In an August stump speech, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took the skepticism about climate change one step further, telling a New Hampshire business crowd that scientists have cooked up the data on global warming for the cash.
"We're seeing weekly, or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what's causing the climate to change," Perry said at the time. "Yes, our climates change. They've been changing ever since the earth was formed."
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has become increasingly skeptical of climate change, calling it "the greatest hoax I think that has been around for many, many years, if not hundreds of years," in a 2009 interview with Fox News.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) appeared alongside former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a 2008 ad that urged the country to address climate change, but has since switched to denial.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is the only mainstream Republican presidential contender who has been outspoken about the need for climate action, calling Republicans' failure to address climate change at the national level "immensely frustrating." Within the GOP presidential field, he's green advocates' best hope.
Watch Romney explain his new-found climate denial in his meeting with the New Hampshire Union Leader. Discussion of energy policy begins just before the 22-minute mark.