Utah Sen.-elect Mitt Romney signaled he may focus on climate change when he's sworn in in January.
In a brief interview with E&E News yesterday, the former Republican presidential nominee said he sees climate change as a "critical area."
Asked if it was an issue he planned to be active on in the Senate, Romney said that he intends "to be active in everything I can be active in" after he takes his post.
Romney, a 2012 Republican presidential nominee who easily won his race to replace outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), has swung on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions for years.
As governor of the blue state of Massachusetts, he pushed to close old coal-fired power plants and helped create the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — essentially a cap-and-trade plan — in the Northeast (Climatewire, Nov. 8).
He has also long advocated increased oil and gas production in an effort to increase U.S. energy independence, including drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
As a presidential candidate in a competitive GOP primary, Romney took a modified tone, shifting some of the dialogue to questions of economics as opposed to science.
"My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us," he said during a 2011 fundraiser, according to ABC News.
But for the past six years, the Republican has been fairly consistent in emphasizing climate change as an urgent problem that humans contribute to and demands action.
Last year, Romney told college students in St. Louis that he was "concerned about the anti-scientific attitude" expressed by some of his Republican colleagues and that he was convinced humanity has played a part in global warming (Climatewire, Oct. 3).
"I happen to believe that there is climate change, and I think humans contribute to it in a substantial way, and therefore I look with openness to all the ideas that might be able to address that," he said at the time.