Ryan Energy Views Seen Easing Conservatives’ Worries
Representative Paul Ryan is skeptical that humans are changing the earth’s climate and supports tax breaks for oil producers, positions that will ease concerns among conservatives over Mitt Romney’s record on energy and the environment, according to a Republican energy analyst.
Ryan, whom Romney picked to be his vice presidential running mate, is “in the mainstream” of Republican thinking on energy and environmental issues, said Mike McKenna, an oil industry lobbyist and president of MWR Strategies Inc. in Washington. Romney has shifted positions on whether power plant and car emissions are warming the planet, questioning climate change and challenging government support for developing renewable energy.
“The folks who think about energy and environment issues had, as recently as six months ago, some pretty serious reservations about Romney,” McKenna said in an interview. “What was a problem six months ago is pretty solidly shored up now among the folks on the right.”
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, voted in 2011 against measures to enhance public health and environmental protection 97 percent of the time, according to the League of Conservation Voters, a Washington-based environmental group. He supports a 10-year, $40 billion tax break for oil and natural gas producers and has criticized government subsidies for renewable energy championed by President Barack Obama.
Ryan will “do whatever he can to cut investments to the clean energy industry, trying to smother wind and solar before they take off,” Navin Nayak, senior vice president for campaigns with the League of Conservation Voters, said in an interview.
Nayak called tax breaks supported by Ryan for oil and gas producers a “gift” to the industry that is no different from tax breaks for wind projects he has said should end.
“Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan support a true all-of-the-above energy approach,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, said in an e-mail. “Congressman Ryan supports comprehensive tax reform, which means that everything should be considered in the context of how to make the tax code fairer and simpler and our businesses more competitive. This couldn’t be more different from President Obama’s approach, which is to single out the oil and gas industry with a targeted and punitive tax hike.”
Romney has backed renewable energy in the past. In 2003 as Massachusetts governor, he touted the state’s support for clean- energy companies such as Konarka Technologies Inc., a solar- technology company.
Konarka, based in Lowell, Massachusetts, shut its doors on June 1 after receiving at least $6.5 million in state aid. The company collapsed one day after Romney visited the Fremont, California, headquarters of Solyndra LLC, which won a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee two years before it collapsed. Romney said Solyndra’s shuttered factory symbolized Obama’s failed efforts to revive the economy.
Romney has also shifted position on global warming. Last June, Romney said that humans are contributing to global warming. In October, he said it’s unclear what is causing climate change and that the government shouldn’t be regulating greenhouse gases.
In a 2009 guest editorial published by the Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin, Ryan said scientists had manipulated data to support the position that man-made emissions are warming the planet.
A number of scientific panels, including the National Academy of Science’s Research Council and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have concluded that the planet is probably warming due to human activity.
Ryan has proposed cutting government funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy, ending an Energy Department program to support the development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and cutting support for projects to make the electric transmission grid more efficient.
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