New York Times environmental reporter John Broder, who in February 2010 called skeptics of global warming 'deniers' and 'relatively uninformed,' warned on Thursday's front page that worrisome 'Republican orthodoxy' on the evils of the Environmental Protection Agency 'may prove a liability in the general election, pollsters and analysts say.' The headline had loaded language: 'Bashing E.P.A. Is New Theme In G.O.P. Race.'
The Environmental Protection Agency is emerging as a favorite target of the Republican presidential candidates, who portray it as the very symbol of a heavy-handed regulatory agenda imposed by the Obama administration that they say is strangling the economy.
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota wants to padlock the E.P.A.'s doors, as does former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas wants to impose an immediate moratorium on environmental regulation.
Opposition to regulation and skepticism about climate change have become tenets of Republican orthodoxy, but they are embraced with extraordinary intensity this year because of the faltering economy, high fuel prices, the Tea Party passion for smaller government and an activist Republican base that insists on strict adherence to the party's central agenda.
But while attacks on the E.P.A., climate-change science and environmental regulation more broadly are surefire applause lines with many Republican primary audiences, these views may prove a liability in the general election, pollsters and analysts say. The American people, by substantial majorities, are concerned about air and water pollution, and largely trust the E.P.A., national surveys say.
Broder painted Republicans as handmaidens to industry (as if Democrats don't get ample donations from environmental groups).
Such regulatory and financial sentiments are shared by many Republicans in Congress and are encouraged by industries that are reliable financial supporters of Republican candidates - the petroleum industry, utilities, coal companies, heavy manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Republican presidential candidates cross these interests at their peril.