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Congressional Candidates Should Lead on the Clean Power Plan

When Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, she made clear the main reason for her decision: the threat of global warming. Clinton called the pipeline “a distraction from the important work we have to do on climate change.”

Clinton is not alone in emphasizing climate change on the campaign trail. Every Democratic presidential candidate has made clean energy and other climate solutions a central part of their platform. Smart Congressional candidates are doing the same.

They understand that addressing climate change will make America stronger. They also know the vast majority of voters are looking for climate leadership.

More than two-thirds of Americans support government limits on carbon pollution, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. And 48 percent of Republicans said they were more likely to cast their ballots for candidates who tackle climate change, according to a New York Times/Stanford survey.

This election cycle, many Congressional candidates are demonstrating their commitment to climate action by supporting the Clean Power Plan. This national plan gives states a great deal of flexibility in how they reduce carbon pollution from power plants. All 50 states will gain new jobs, cleaner air and savings on energy bills. In other words, the Clean Power Plan touches on what most voters care about most: health, jobs and savings accounts.

Plenty of GOP leaders will continue to be mired in climate denial and inaction, but strong candidates will lead on the issue. NRDC Action Fund research found that candidates who run on clean energy and climate action are more likely to win their races. Talking about the benefits of the Clean Power Plan will help them do it.

Public Health: Cleaner air means fewer trips to the ER for our kids’ asthma or our parents’ heart attacks. Yet climate change contributes to higher levels of smog, which is linked to respiratory illness, heart conditions and premature deaths. The EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan will help reduce this pollution and prevent 90,000 asthma attacks a year. This will be especially welcome news in Florida, Colorado, and others states home to a large number of Latinos, 50 percent of whom live where pollution levels are often too toxic to breathe safely.

Savings Accounts: Spending less on energy bills puts more money in our pockets. The fastest and cheapest way for states to meet their carbon pollution limits is to help people make homes and businesses more energy efficient. Incentives for installing efficient windows, furnaces, air conditioners and other solutions will drive down energy use—and the cost of our monthly bills as well. In addition, the EPA is offering states extra incentives to help low-income communities put money-saving energy efficiency measures in place. Taken together, the Clean Power Plan will help Americans save a total of $155 billion on our electric bills between 2020 and 2030.

Economic Growth: The clean energy economy is booming. Renewable energy attracted $38 billion in investments in American communities last year, and that’s just the beginning. Renewable projects are expected to roughly double by 2030 under the Clean Power Plan, and efficiency programs will also expand. This will generate more good-paying jobs in every state in the nation. Candidates can point to the success of clean energy industries in their states as a sign of the growth to come. For example, Indiana Senate candidate Baron Hill can say that his state is already in the top 10 for clean energy job growth. And, in the crowded race to fill Senator Marco Rubio’s seat in the Senate, for instance, campaigners can highlight the 130,000 Floridians working in the clean energy sector, 100,000 of them in energy efficiency.

Future Generations: Climate change is already hitting home. Candidates have all too many examples of how it can intensify extreme weather, from prolonged drought in Nevada to recording-breaking downpours in Indiana to repeated flooding at high tide in Florida. But they can also offer a solution. Reducing carbon pollution today will help shield future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now.

GOP can run clean too

Republicanlogo.svgA new poll released this week reveals that most Republican voters recognize the threat of climate change and that humans contribute to it. The majority of conservative Republicans agree. And nearly three-quarters of party voters favor “taking action” to foster clean energy.

For several years now, NRDC Action Fund analysis has shown that candidates who champion clean energy and climate action are more likely to win their races.  In the past, those winners tended to be Democrats, since so few Republicans engaged on the issue.

The new poll confirms that Republican candidates can run on climate change and win their races too.

The survey was conducted by three leading GOP pollsters and funded by Jay Faison, an entrepreneur and self-described Christian conservative from Charlotte, North Carolina. They found that 56 percent of Republicans believe in climate change and the vast majority support clean energy solutions. A full 87 percent of conservatives favor tax incentives for homeowners who feed solar power back into the grid.

These views influence how people cast their ballots. Sixty-three percent of Independents, for instance, would rather vote for a candidate who supports strong federal limits on carbon pollution than a candidate who says, “The science around climate change is not at all clear, so the government should focus on more important issues.”

Other polls have found similar results. About half of GOP voters say they are more likely to favor a candidate who wants to address the climate challenge, according to a New York Times/Stanford poll. And nearly three-quarters of Republican voters say they support government limits on carbon pollution, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found.

Voters of both parties are looking for leadership on this issue. They see extreme weather pummeling communities–from prolonged drought in California to heavy rains in the Midwest and record-breaking fires in the Pacific Northwest. They also see wind farms and solar panels spreading across the landscape, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and generating pollution-free power.

Most Americans embrace candidates who tackle the climate threat and promote clean energy solutions. Democratic voters have rewarded these candidates in the past three election cycles, and Republican voters seem poised to do the same. The trouble is their leaders haven’t gotten the message yet.

Jeb Bush released an energy plan on Tuesday that ignored climate change and failed to mention renewable power. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have refused to say climate change is caused by humans. And only one GOP presidential candidate–Bobby Jindal–has offered specific plans for cutting carbon pollution. Republican leaders in Congress, meanwhile, attack climate action and clean energy incentives at every turn.

These positions are out of step with most Republican voters, but they suit influential donors from the fossil fuel industry. The Koch brothers alone have vowed to spend $889 million on the 2016 cycle, and they adamantly oppose government measures to address climate change.

Candidates who persist in climate denial and paralysis may attract hefty donations, but they will soon start alienating the many Republicans who care about energy security, clean air, economic opportunity and a stable future for their children.

It’s time for GOP candidates to recognize that addressing climate change isn’t just good public policy, it’s good politics.

Bush’s newly released energy policy looks backwards

Standing at a Pennsylvania oil and gas company with a history of more than one hundred environmental violations, presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced an energy plan just as fraught with failures. With today’s release of the plan, Bush has cemented his place among the many contenders for the White House who are keeping their heads firmly in the sand about climate change.

Bush’s proposed energy policies ignore the realities of climate change, as well as the will of his own voter base. A late August 2015 poll showed that a majority of Republicans believe climate change is real and that humans may be contributing to it. And 72 percent of GOP voters support developing and using clean energy.

Bush barely mentions clean energy technologies in his plan. Instead, he wants to cut regulations, build the Keystone XL pipeline, encourage drilling, and generally follow the agenda of big polluters that have given so generously to his campaign.

He says he wants to create jobs, but Bush’s plan will worsen climate change – costing jobs – and will undercut the booming clean energy economy in an ill-fated attempt to prop up big polluter industries. In contrast, clean energy industries have been adding hundreds of thousands of jobs each year. One NRDC study found that the Clean Power Plan could create more than 274,000 jobs and save consumers billions on their electricity bills, yet Bush’s plan seeks to scrap the plan altogether.

Fittingly, Bush chose Rice Energy as the setting for his energy plan announcement. While Rice Energy was racking up environmental violations, Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy has been growing and providing jobs for nearly 60,000 workers at more than 4,000 businesses with a strong employment growth rate of 8.5 percent.

Gov. Bush’s policy is so completely backwards facing that it’s hard to believe Gov. Bush is serious with this proposal. America needs a leader with a vision for a clean energy future, not a throwback to the big polluter agenda that got us into this mess.

American voters overwhelmingly favor serious action to protect the planet for their kids and grandkids, so Jeb Bush and the rest of the presidential candidates will have to do a lot better than this if they’re going to convince Americans they’re focused on the future rather than stuck in the past.


Contact: Denis Dison, NRDC Action Fund,, 202-717-8293

NRDC Action Fund responds to Bush energy plan rollout

The NRDC Action Fund today released the following statement from David Goldston, director of government affairs, in response to the energy plan outlined by presidential candidate Jeb Bush:

“Jeb Bush gets energy policy entirely wrong, and this proposal should end any portrayals of him as a ‘moderate’ or ‘thoughtful’ candidate.  His plan barely mentions any future-oriented, environmentally friendly energy sources like wind and solar, and he mentions climate change only to throw poorly aimed brickbats at the President’s plan to limit carbon pollution – the only plan on the books to address the problem.”


The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is to build political support in the United States for protecting the planet and its people. We mobilize influential constituencies, experts, community leaders and others to directly advocate for clean air and water, public health, biodiversity, and a stable climate. We support candidates who stand up for environmental protection, and we expose those who side with polluters rather than the public good.

Important note to reporters/editors: The NRDC Action Fund is an affiliated but separate organization from the Natural Resources Defense Council. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, the NRDC Action Fund engages in various advocacy and political activities for which the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 501(c)(3) organization, faces certain legal limitations or restrictions. News and information released by the NRDC Action Fund needs to be identified as from the “NRDC Action Fund.” The “Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund” is incorrect. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the NRDC Action Fund cannot be used interchangeably.  Also please note that the word “National” does not appear in Natural Resources Defense Council.

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