Mike Leavitt: China Climate Change Deal Will Hurt U.S. Economy

The former Utah governor and head of the E.P.A. under President George W. Bush says he is skeptical about Obama's climate change deal with China.

Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, a Republican who went on to serve as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, said Wednesday on “With All Due Respect” that his party doesn't “know how to talk about the environment” and that President Barack Obama's climate change deal with China will disproportionately hurt the U.S. economy. 

Citing his experience in dealing with China during his years as the head of the E.P.A., Leavitt said his impression is that Beijing would never enact the broad changes required to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

“The point is they're going to do nothing that would constrain their economy. On the other hand, at least initial indications are that this could have a very significant effect on the U.S. economy,” Leavitt said, adding, “The likelihood is that it will have a much bigger impact on our economy that it ever will theirs.”

Republicans have balked at Obama's attempts to address climate change, often times by noting the lack of cooperation on the part of the Chinese. When asked by host John Heilemann whether the GOP also finds itself on the wrong side of science when it comes to acknowledging the seriousness of global warming, Leavitt only partly conceded the point. 

“I think this is a legitimate problem for our party, and it isn't that our policies our wrong,” Leavitt said. “We just don't know how to talk about the environment or health care as well as we should. We need to learn as a party that this is a matter that is of concern to people. We ought not to abandon our ideology of using markets as opposed to mandates. We ought to recognize that people want solutions but they want them to be solutions that are rational.”

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