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Election 2012

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Obama gears up for a campaign climate fight

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

In a Rolling Stone interview published Wednesday, President Obama broke out of his self-imposed silence on climate change. He made some remarkable statements, including his belief that the millions of dollars pouring into the anti-science disinformation campaign will drive climate change into the presidential campaign.

Earlier this year, the president omitted any discussion of climate change from his State of the Union address. And he (or the White House communications team) edited it out of his Earth Day proclamation.

But in this interview, Obama was actually the first to bring up climate change, noting it was one of many big issues he’s had to deal with and then slamming the GOP for moving so far to the right on the issue.

The big news was that the president expects climate change to be a campaign issue:

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Romney, once an anti-sprawl crusader, created model for Obama ‘smart growth’ program

Mitt Romney in front of a treeMitt Romney pushed for smart-growth policies in Massachusetts. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

Everyone knows that "Obamacare" was modeled on Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health-care law. But did you know that a key Obama "smart growth" initiative -- the Partnership for Sustainable Communities -- was also created in the mold of a Romney program?

Tea Partiers rallied to quash funding for this Obama partnership last fall. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), conservative darling, criticized the idea for the partnership when it first arose and accused the Obama administration of trying to impose "an urban-utopian fantasy through an unprecedented intrusion of the Federal Government into the shaping of local communities." The Republican National Committee recently warned that smart growth is part of a U.N. conspiracy (green helicopters, anyone?).

This is yet another issue on which the party's presumptive presidential nominee looks to be seriously out of sync with the GOP base.

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How Obama and Romney compare on green issues

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Mitt Romney’s campaign has benefited from Big Oil and Big Coal’s backing, which have poured more than $16 million into ads attacking President Barack Obama’s energy policies. As a favor, Romney says he plans to open public lands and water to drilling while undoing safety and environmental protections.

Below, we take a side-by-side look at Obama's and Romney’s policies and their divisions on fossil fuels, clean energy, public health, and pollution. Beneath the chart is a more detailed comparison of the candidates’ energy proposals and rhetoric.

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Obama may blow off the Earth Summit

Photo by porchlife.

When the leaders of more than 100 countries meet this June to discuss the small matter of the Future of Life on Earth, President Obama might be there. Then again, maybe he’s got a golf match scheduled that day. He’s not saying.

Yes, it’s true, the guy who just picked up an early endorsement from Big Green groups like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, the man who announced in his last State of the Union Address that “America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs,” may be a no-show at the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

When asked about the president’s plans on Tuesday, U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern told The Washington Post, “I don’t have any understanding that the president has any intention of going.” A White House spokesperson was noncommittal: “I don’t have any scheduling announcements at this time.”

Ouch. What ever happened to “Love Your Mother”?

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Happy Earth Day, Mitt!

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney, brownwasher in chief. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

Mitt Romney might be the country's No. 1 brownwasher. While corporate America tries to paint itself as greener than it really is, corporate America's presumptive candidate tries to paint himself as browner than he really is -- or at least was.

We aren't fooled. Sure, he mocks efficient cars, extols the virtues of coal, and argues that we should be drill-baby-drilling our way to lower gas prices. Yes, he bashes the EPA and has packed his staff with EPA haters. OK, he wants to keep handing out billions to Big Oil and rubber-stamp the Keystone XL pipeline.

But if you chip away at that brown paint, there's a layer of green underneath. (As for what's beneath that layer, and then the one below that, who knows?) When he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney was about as green as Republicans get (if you don't count the now-disgraced Governator, and many Republicans don't). Check out these eco-friendly stances from Romney's past:

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Penguin lives the dream, bites Newt Gingrich

Photo by Kim Nowacki.

In the grand tradition of Jimmy Carter's swimming rabbit, Theodore Roosevelt's moose, and JFK's robot unicorn, Newt Gingrich has now had a run-in with wildlife: He was bitten on the finger by a penguin at the St. Louis zoo.

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Being Green: Presidential hopeful Jill Stein aims to rebuild a broken system

Lost amid the carnival of embarrassments that is the Republican presidential primary is the fact that there is another primary race underway: the Green Party’s. “What?” you say. “Those guys are still around?” Well yes, but they’re not guys.

The front-runner in the race is Jill Stein, a Boston physician and veteran activist and candidate with the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party. (Note to the good people of the Bay State: We get that you’re trying to be inclusive, but a name like that is NO WAY to win respect in the world.) She is currently trouncing the second-place runner, former sitcom star Roseanne Barr. (Note to the good people of the Green Party: Oh, never mind …)

Lest you think this is all rainbows and ponies, however, Stein is not messing around. She says she became involved in politics after witnessing firsthand the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, learning disorders, autism -- problems that she traces to toxic chemicals, an industrial food system, and a society built around the automobile.

Stein’s presidential platform includes universal health care, tuition-free higher education, and forgiveness of student debt. And at the center of it all is a Green New Deal that she says will put millions of people to work, tackle the climate crisis, and address our failing health as well.

The Green Party will choose its candidate for president at a national convention in Baltimore in July. If things continue as they have been, Stein will win the spot handily. (She has won 10 of 10 state primaries, plus the District of Columbia.) I talked with her earlier this week.

Read more: Election 2012, Politics

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Obama ad ties Mitt Romney to Big Oil’s gas-price attacks

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

The Obama campaign is acting as if it is already in a general-election fight, against a Big Oil-Mitt Romney ticket. In a new ad, President Obama attacks “Big Oil” and Mitt Romney, pushing back against oil-industry campaign ads that accuse Obama of raising gas prices. The front group American Energy Alliance, secretly funded by Koch Industries and other oil giants, is running a $3.6 million ad campaign that criticizes Obama policies that don’t favor the oil-industry agenda. Oil companies have been profiting from American suffering at the gas pump, but they believe they would do even better under a Romney presidency, the new Obama ad argues:

Under President Obama, domestic oil production’s at an eight-year high. So why is Big Oil attacking him? Because he’s fighting to end their tax breaks. He’s raising mileage standards, and doubling renewable energy. In all these fights, Mitt Romney stood with Big Oil, for their tax breaks, attacking higher mileage standards and renewables. So when you see this ad, remember who paid for it and what they want.

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Romney supported cap-and-trade in 2003 as a way to combat climate change

Photo by Dave Lawrence.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

A new document has surfaced [PDF] showing Mitt Romney’s strong support for regulating carbon dioxide in 2003, when he called cap-and-trade “an effective approach” to combating climate change.

The comments were made in a letter from Romney to New York Gov. George Pataki (R) about a regional cooperative system for regulating greenhouse gases. In the letter, Romney agreed with Pataki on the need to “reduce the power plant pollution that is harming our climate.”

But today, in trying to align himself with conservative political backlash against climate science, Romney says “we don’t know” whether humans are warming the planet, and that doing something about the problem “is not the right course for us.”

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Mitt Romney thinks pets are cars and cars are pets

By now you've surely heard that Mitt Romney's planned all-inclusive beach resort house in La Jolla will include a car elevator, for cars that need to get to the second floor of the garage but are too tired to take the stairs. Between that and the indelible story about Romney keeping his dog on the roof rack, we're forced to come to the obvious conclusion: Mitt -- or is it M.I.T.T.? -- is just genuinely confused about the difference between organic creatures and vehicles.

Read more: Election 2012