Politics: Economy

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July 12, 2011, 6:11 a.m.

A Rasmussen Re­ports (IVR) poll; con­duc­ted 9/28; sur­veyed 750 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.6% (re­lease, 9/29). Tested: Sen­ate Maj. Lead­er Harry Re­id and ‘06 NV-02 can­did­ate/ex-As­semb. Shar­ron Angle (R). (Note: Trends from 7/27 and earli­er are without lean­ers.)

Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­up

- Now 9/28 9/13 9/1 8/16 7/27 7/12 6/22 6/9 4/27 3/31 S. Angle 50% 47% 48% 48% 50% 43% 43% 48% 50% 40% 51% H. Re­id 46 48 48 50 48 45 46 41 39 40 40 Oth­er 2 4 2 2 1 7 6 8 5 6 11 Un­dec 2 1 3 1 1 4 5 2 6 3 5

Time Has Come Today

A CNN/Time/Opin­ion Re­search Corp. poll; con­duc­ted 10/1-5; sur­veyed 789 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.5% (re­lease, 10/6). Tested: Re­id, Angle and busi­ness­man Scott Ashji­an (TP).

Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­ups

- All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom 9/14 S. Angle 42% 7% 74% 41% 50% 33% 42% H. Re­id 40 86 9 31 36 45 41 S. Ashji­an 7 2 6 12 7 7 5 Oth­er — — — 1 — 1 n/a None 10 5 10 14 7 13 11 Un­dec — — — 1 — — 1 - All Dem GOP Ind Men Wom S. Angle 47% 6% 83% 49% 54% 41% H. Re­id 45 89 12 38 38 53 Oth­er 1 — — 2 1 — Neither 7 5 5 11 7 6 Un­dec — — — 1 1 —

(For more from this poll, please see today’s NV GOV and NV In The States stor­ies.)

The small, en­ergy-scarce states in New Eng­land breed en­vir­on­ment­ally-friendly Re­pub­lic­ans like no oth­er re­gion in the coun­try.

When he was the gov­ernor of Mas­sachu­setts from 2003 to 2007, Mitt Rom­ney was the breed’s pro­to­type. Now, as the pre­sumptive Re­pub­lic­an White House nom­in­ee, it’s an open ques­tion as to wheth­er he will ever again em­brace the policies he did as the Bay State’s gov­ernor.

“Rom­ney was very con­vinced on the no-re­grets strategy: Do all those things that help the eco­nomy, re­duce oil de­pend­ence — and by the way, they im­prove the cli­mate situ­ation,” said Douglas Foy, who was the gov­ernor’s “su­per sec­ret­ary” over­see­ing en­ergy, en­vir­on­ment, trans­port­a­tion, and hous­ing is­sues. “He wasn’t a knee-jerk en­vir­on­ment­al per­son, but he was quite open-minded.”

A year after he took of­fice in 2003, Rom­ney re­leased a com­pre­hens­ive, 52-page Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion Plan that ex­plained how Mas­sachu­setts planned to com­bat cli­mate change. The am­bi­tious plan sup­por­ted more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient build­ings and re­new­able en­ergy. Rom­ney also pledged to work with oth­er New Eng­land states on a re­gion­al cap-and-trade sys­tem to con­trol green­house-gas emis­sions.

“The same policies that pro­tect the cli­mate also pro­mote en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, smart busi­ness prac­tices, and im­prove the en­vir­on­ment in which our cit­izens live and work,” Rom­ney wrote in a let­ter pre­fa­cing the plan.

Rom­ney was also a lead­er on oth­er clean-air is­sues. In 2003, he stood in front of a coal-fired power plant that was shut­ting down and said he wouldn’t sup­port jobs that kill people, re­fer­ring to the plant’s tox­ic emis­sions. His At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s of­fice was act­ive in key law­suits that have res­ul­ted in some of the ma­jor Clean Air Act rules that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency is pro­mul­gat­ing today.

Rom­ney’s ac­tions on cli­mate change and oth­er en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues have been par for the course for both Demo­crat­ic and Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors in the North­east and, to an ex­tent, their rep­res­ent­at­ives in Con­gress.

“There is a long tra­di­tion in the North­east of Re­pub­lic­ans be­ing quite sym­path­et­ic to en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues and con­ser­va­tion is­sues,” said Foy, who was CEO and pres­id­ent of New Eng­land’s premi­er en­vir­on­ment­al ad­vocacy group, the Con­ser­va­tion Law Found­a­tion, for 25 years be­fore work­ing for Rom­ney. “We don’t have a lot of land or re­sources to waste, so we need to be care­ful and ef­fi­cient.”

New Hamp­shire, Maine, Ver­mont, Mas­sachu­setts, Delaware, and Rhode Is­land all made the list of the 10 states that pro­duce the least en­ergy in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to 2010 fed­er­al data, the most re­cent avail­able. Con­necti­c­ut, Mary­land, and New Jer­sey aren’t far be­hind. The re­gion also faces the brunt of pol­lu­tion from the Mid­w­est be­cause of the way the air­stream travels.

En­ergy and en­vir­on­ment ex­perts from Mas­sachu­setts cite Rom­ney’s hir­ing of Foy as a bold sign that he was com­mit­ted to these is­sues. Some con­ser­vat­ives have de­scribed Foy as a rad­ic­al en­vir­on­ment­al­ist. Foy ab­ruptly left the ad­min­is­tra­tion in early 2006, just two months after Rom­ney de­cided to not par­ti­cip­ate in the re­gion­al cap-and-trade sys­tem against Foy’s re­com­mend­a­tion, and shortly be­fore Rom­ney began ex­plor­ing a pres­id­en­tial bid for the 2008 elec­tion cycle.

Fast-for­ward to Rom­ney’s latest pres­id­en­tial run. His cam­paign web­site doesn’t even have a sec­tion on the en­vir­on­ment. The only part that men­tions en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tion in much de­tail is the sec­tion on reg­u­la­tions, which in­cludes Rom­ney’s cri­ti­cism of Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law and EPA rules. Rom­ney has also pledged to ex­empt car­bon-di­ox­ide emis­sions from the Clean Air Act and has equi­voc­ated on cli­mate-change sci­ence.

“There’s a big dif­fer­ence between the North­east and the rest of the coun­try on these is­sues,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who ad­vised Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Mc­Cain‘s 2008 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign and is now pres­id­ent of the in­flu­en­tial con­ser­vat­ive think tank Amer­ic­an Ac­tion For­um. “He’s run­ning for pres­id­ent, and you have to de­cide what do voters think are im­port­ant is­sues to talk about. You can’t find a poll that puts any of these is­sues near the top.”

North­east­ern Re­pub­lic­ans not run­ning for pres­id­ent are more out­spokenly com­mit­ted to clean-air reg­u­la­tions than Re­pub­lic­ans in most oth­er parts of the coun­try. (Cli­mate-change policies, however, are now politi­cized in all corners of the coun­try.)

Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Chris Christie of New Jer­sey, who flir­ted briefly with a pres­id­en­tial run last year, has for the last couple of months been tout­ing a policy “of not al­low­ing new coal-fired power plants to be built in New Jer­sey,” ac­cord­ing to press re­leases is­sued in April and June.

The policy caught the at­ten­tion of Wash­ing­ton en­vir­on­ment­al and pub­lic-health ex­perts be­cause in­side the Belt­way, such a state­ment from a Re­pub­lic­an would be un­think­able as the party’s lead­er­ship blames Obama’s EPA for wa­ging a war on coal. To be sure, Christie’s state­ment is mostly sym­bol­ic, be­cause New Jer­sey had no plans to build any new coal plants.

On Cap­it­ol Hill, tea party groups and fossil-fuel in­terests fight­ing hard to en­sure that Rom­ney moves to the right on these is­sues are giv­ing most North­east­ern Re­pub­lic­ans a pass — at least for now.

The clearest and most re­cent ex­ample of this came when all New Eng­land Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors, in­clud­ing Scott Brown of Mas­sachu­setts, voted against a GOP meas­ure that would have nixed a ma­jor EPA rule con­trolling mer­cury and oth­er tox­ic air pol­lu­tion from power plants. Con­ser­vat­ive and fossil-fuel groups lob­bied coal-state Demo­crats and at least one Re­pub­lic­an, Sen. Lamar Al­ex­an­der of Ten­ness­ee, but they didn’t fo­cus nearly as much on North­east­ern Re­pub­lic­ans.

For a GOP hop­ing to take con­trol of the Sen­ate and keep con­trol of the House, a New Eng­land Re­pub­lic­an who is sym­path­et­ic to en­vir­on­ment­al is­sues is still bet­ter than any kind of New Eng­land Demo­crat.

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