Which environmental policies reflect the real Mitt Romney? Those he displayed as Massachusetts governor, or the ones that the Republican Party is asking him to embrace as a presidential candidate?
How Romney responds to the Republican National Committee's (RNC) request to denounce a United Nations non-binding environmental protection action plan should go a long way towards telling us which direction he is ultimately headed. The U.N. plan, which also calls for the eradication of poverty, was denigrated by the RNC in a resolution issued at its annual winter meeting in January. RNC officials dismissed the action plan as a thinly veiled attempt to usurp our sovereignty and absorb us into a U.N.-orchestrated world government. The RNC is the central policy arm of the Republican Party and clearly has little use for the U.N. One wonders whether Romney shares that dim view. If so, he certainly did not exhibit that sentiment as governor. Would he now be willing to consider reducing our financial contribution or even severing ties to the U.N., courses of action that would be cheered in some Republican quarters?
In its resolution, the RNC demonized U.N.-recommended "sustainable development" and "smart growth" land use planning as "extreme environmentalism" and "social engineering" threatening America's core value of private property ownership.
One of the cornerstone's of Romney's administration while Governor of Massachusetts was a sustainable development program rooted in the concept of smart growth. The state encouraged clustered high density multi-family housing where development already existed and public transit was nearby. In 2003, the Governor told Commonwealth Magazine "I very much believe in the concept known as smart growth or sustainable development... We don't want to deplete green space, air, water, in the rush to grow."
The RNC also singled out the U.N. plan's advocacy of "green" and "alternative energy" projects as a blatant example of anti-capitalist social engineering.
Romney, on the other hand, had no political reservations about green technology when presiding over Massachusetts. He established a 15 million dollar Green Energy Fund and authorized state subsidies for solar energy expansion.
In its resolution distributed to all Republican candidates from the presidential nominee on down (with full expectation of concurrence), the RNC issued a blanket indictment of the U.N. Action Plan, calling its principles "destructive and insidious". Just how bad were they? Among those U.N. "menacing" principles was the concept that environmental protection should be integral to economic development. Another principle was that a solid framework of environmental regulation needed to be in place. A third urged that environmental impact statements be prepared prior to approval of projects in ecologically sensitive areas.
It is very unlikely that Romney as Massachusetts Governor would have had a problem with any of the aforementioned principles. After all, while in the State House, he implemented stringent anti-air pollution standards and strengthened environmental enforcement by 54 percent.
So the question boils down to whether Romney, the presidential candidate, has undergone a transformation from Romney, the governor, and will acquiesce to the RNC'S conspiratorial vision of internationally-endorsed environmental protection?
The voters are entitled to know.
Follow Edward Flattau on Twitter: www.twitter.com/greenmorality