By Rick Santorum
I have traveled across this great country many times. I have met countless Americans looking for jobs--real jobs, doing real work. These Americans have lives to lead, families to feed, rent to pay, and gas tanks to fill. Their dreams are our dreams; their hopes are our hopes; their search for a better America is our search.
And yet in Washington, blocking the American dream has become political sport. The Washington Establishment would rather fight global warming than fight for American jobs.
President Obama and his administration have decided to wage war against global warming and thus against the American worker. The Obama administration writes oppressive government rules and regulations that shut the factories and workplaces of American workers. Since January 2010, over 100 coal-fired plants have or are going to close. We are the collateral damage of the war against global warming. His "just say no, no, no" to unleashing domestic energy sources energy "strategy" doesn't help create jobs or lower energy costs for American families or businesses. Those living on or near the Gulf Coast in particular know the impact these extreme environmental positions can have on the region's economy.
In May 2010 the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report entitled "How Policies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Affect Employment." The CBO report shows that emissions reduction programs would cause job losses in coal mining, oil and gas extraction, gas utilities, and petroleum refining. It concluded that "job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate."
My opponents for the GOP nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have supported the radical environmentalists' measures to combat global warming at the expense of American jobs.
In his book No Apology, Mr. Romney wrote, "I believe that climate change is occurring. The reduction in size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor." Last year, Mr. Romney said he favored "reducing our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming."
While governor, Mr. Romney supported restrictions on carbon emissions -- especially, those targeting coal. He bragged that Massachusetts was "the first and only state to set CO2 emissions limits on power plants."
Mr. Gingrich has also flip-flopped on this issue. He, too, was for emissions reductions before he was against it. The former House speaker once said that there is a "wealth of scientific data" of man-made global warming to warrant "urgent" government action.
Asked in a February 2007 PBS Frontline interview about President George W. Bush's endorsement of mandatory carbon caps in his 2000 campaign, Mr. Gingrich said "there's a package there that's very, very good. And frankly, it's something I would strongly support." He also appeared in a 2008 television ad with then Democratic House SpeakerNancy Pelosi promoting the theory man-made climate change as fact.
That was then; this is now.
Romney and Gingrich have changed their views for one simple reason: to pander to Republican voters when the political heat is rising. They sought to ingratiate themselves with trendy liberal elites -- despite lack of conclusive, verifiable scientific evidence. Their failure was not just intellectual, but moral. It showed weakness of character, inability to lead even when it's not popular.
Global warming is the wrong war for America to fight. While millions of Americans are suffering unemployment, their American dream is being blocked by the government rules Romney and Gingrich advocated.
Of all the GOP candidates, I am the only one who has not bowed, and will never bow, to this liberal orthodoxy. I did not pander when global warming seemed cool to the press and to Hollywood. We know that climate changes over time, that he earth warms and cools over time. This debate is about whether human activity plays a role, and whether U.S. emissions cuts can have any effect when China and India refuse to go along. The apostles of this pseudo-religion believe that America and its people are the source of the earth's temperature. I do not.
I believe in conservation and good stewardship of our environment. It is our duty as Americans to combat industrial pollution and make sure our air and water are clean. But we can do that without hurting the American worker. Like most Americans I treasure our natural beauty and national treasures, our national parks, and wildlife refuges. I also appreciate the value of working the land, creating jobs, and strengthening opportunities for all American families.
In contrast, radical environmentalism has a blind devotion to the promotion of a radical agenda that ignores the interests and property rights of people. Global warming became the litmus test of this movement.
I have a different view of America. There is a war worth fighting, and that is to restore the American dream and to stop those who think it is dispensable. Left to the wisdom of individual Americans, our economy can and will prosper. The role of our government is to allow individual Americans to live in liberty and pursue happiness, not to destroy our economy and everything we hold dear.