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NRDC Action Fund’s Weekly News Summary

This is what the NRDC Action Fund has been reading this week:

Voter Calls Ben Carson Out – At his town hall meeting in Iowa City on Friday, the Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson insulted people with low IQs and lamented that they were allowed to vote. He said it was “disturbing” that many people are unable to pass the written test to get into the military. He urged the audience to “read up” on the history of Islam, and said progressives are “dumbing down our society” with calls for political correctness. All of this intrigued Daniel Schnall, 29, a graduate student at the University of Iowa and registered independent. Schnall asked Carson: If you’re so passionate about being educated, then why don’t you accept the science of human-caused climate change? (Think Progress)

GOP Presidential Field Full of Deniers – Even in a campaign season where opinions diverge wildly, it’s hard to think of a topic with a broader range of candidate reactions than climate change. Democrats think it’s a big problem requiring a serious response, while Republicans tend to think either it’s not enough of a problem to worry about or it isn’t a problem at all, perhaps even a massive hoax. (Concord Monitor)

Next President Will Make-or-Break U.S. Paris PledgeThe United States’ ability to meet its Paris greenhouse gas reduction commitments will depend in large part on who is elected president this November, a new report finds. While the Obama administration has succeeded in bending the curve on carbon dioxide emissions, its policies are insufficient to deliver on President Obama’s promise of cutting U.S. emissions between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, according to the report by the Rhodium Group. (E&E News Climatewire)

Jeb’s Climate Plan: “Someone in a Garage Somewhere” Will Fix ItOn the trail, former Florida governor Jeb Bush interjected to say the free market would resolve climate change before government could. “There’s someone in a garage somewhere,” he said, “parochially I hope it’s in Miami, that’s going to have a clue, to have an answer to this.” (The Guardian)

No Wonder They Continue to DenyBut mere acknowledgement of the existence of climate change is not enough. Neither Rubio nor Bush came forward to say what they would do to fight climate change. Their response to a gathering danger acknowledged by the Pentagon, 196 world leaders at the Paris climate summit and, yes, scientists, was merely to express opposition to the Democratic policy prescriptions already out there. Do they have no policy ideas? Would they leave climate solutions entirely to the market? That’s a huge oversight. (The Guardian)

Climate Change Is Most Important Policy Issue – So what’s really at stake in this year’s election? Well, among other things, the fate of the planet. Last year was the hottest on record, by a wide margin, which should — but won’t — put an end to climate deniers’ (debunked) claims that global warming has stopped. The truth is that climate change just keeps getting scarier; it is, by far, the most important policy issue facing America and the world. Still, this election wouldn’t have much bearing on the issue if there were no prospect of effective action against the looming catastrophe. (New York Times)

Conservative Case for Acting on Climate – Conservatives and liberals may not have much to cooperate on these days, but all would readily agree that people should not be forced to starve or lose their livelihoods when achievable, implementable solutions exist. This is especially the case when helping our neighbor also helps ourselves – by lending a hand in regions struggling with climate change, we also protect ourselves from political and economic instability and develop solutions that we will likely soon need in our own fields and cities back home. There are other strong reasons why Republicans should act, including the hunter’s incentive for habitat conservation, and the importance of re-establishing American technological innovation in the future global economy. All told, climate denial is not a future political winner for conservatives , and Republican legislators increasingly are becoming aware of this, such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Gibson (R-NY). Maybe climate change should be a Republican issue in 2016 after all. (Huffington Post)

GOP Presidential Candidate Climate Stances – As Iowans vote today to select their preferred candidate for president, it’s worth taking a look at where the leading major Republican contenders stand on the issue of climate change. (Bloomberg)

Climate change threatens N.H., but GOP candidates have no answers

In the woods of central New Hampshire, Martha Carlson has a 60-acre “sugar bush” where she produces maple syrup. Carlson is part of an iconic industry that brings millions of dollars to the state each year, and she tends forests that help attract nearly $300 million worth of fall foliage tourism. Yet in the past few years, she has seen the sap season growing shorter and leaves sparser. There are fewer crisp nights to fuel the brilliant red of autumn. Even more alarming to Carlson: the syrup is less sweet.  Her research found that the decline in sweetness parallels the rise in temperature since 1970–a rise linked to climate change.

“Anyone can look at a picture of the polar bear, but what does [climate change] look like in my backyard with my animals and my plants?” Carlson asked. The state’s scientists are exploring those questions, and some predict that maple forests will move 300 miles north in coming decades.

Carlson is just one of many Granite State residents feeling the sting of climate change. Whether it’s the local ski industry that lost $54.3 million in low-snow years or the communities hit by severe storms requiring 12 FEMA “major disaster declarations” in the past decade, New Hampshirites are experiencing firsthand what climate change can do to their homes and livelihoods.

Yet none of the Republican presidential candidates arriving for the state’s primary are addressing these challenges. And not one of them champions the progress New Hampshire has made in reducing climate change pollution and its expanding clean energy economy. Instead, they either deny the existence of climate change or vow to block, rollback, and prevent climate measures across the country.

That won’t sit well with most New Hampshire residents. According to a January poll, more than 60 percent of the state’s voters favor the EPA’s new carbon pollution limits. And GOP pollster American Viewpoint found that Republican primary voters in New Hampshire want presidential candidates to maintain or strengthen national environmental safeguards.

While the GOP candidates passing through the Granite State ignore the climate challenge, many residents are rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it. New Hampshire’s Seacoast region, for instance, is a major economic engine for the state, home to aerospace industries, manufacturers, tourist businesses and commercial fishing. Yet residents have already seen an increase in flooding, and rising seas will only increase the threat.

Several towns have started using regional climate assessments to prepare infrastructure for higher waters. Kim Reed, the Rye town planning and zoning administrator, said, “In Rye, it is not an option to ignore the effects of the changing climate. If we don’t do anything, it may hurt the community.”

Even as New Hampshire towns become more resilient, the state is also tackling climate change at its root. In 2006, New Hampshire helped launch the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce power plant pollution across nine northeastern states. The program has cut carbon pollution by one-third while saving people $1.5 billion on utility bills, creating more than 22,000 additional jobs and bringing $2.9 billion in additional economic benefit to the region.

New Hampshire also has a renewable energy standard that will ensure the state gets 24.8 percent of electricity from wind, solar and other clean power resources. And many Granite State businesses are investing in climate solutions, from Timberland to Stonyfield, Worthen Industries to Smuttynose Brewing Company.

Local action like this is important, but to paraphrase climate denier Marco Rubio, New Hampshire is not a planet. Each one of the Republican contenders for the White House has attacked similar climate action on the national and international level, from carbon limits to clean energy incentives. Both Democratic candidates, meanwhile, support the kind of progress that New Hampshire is making–the kind that will help keep the maple syrup sweet and the state strong for generations to come.

Polls: N.H. primary voters favor clean energy

The Iowa Caucuses are done, so it’s on to New Hampshire next week where the remaining candidates for president face voters who have strong opinions about clean energy.

A January poll found more than 60% of likely voters in New Hampshire support new EPA standards that limit carbon pollution from power plants. Even self-identified Republican primary voters in the Granite State want presidential candidates who will maintain or strengthen federal environmental protections, according to a poll conducted last summer by GOP pollster American Viewpoint. They want to limit the use of coal and increase the use of clean energy sources such as wind and solar, and they’re not buying the false argument that switching to clean energy will cost American jobs, according to the poll.

Meanwhile leading GOP contender Donald Trump has said he’d gut the EPA. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the top vote-getter in Iowa, continues to bungle climate science in a sad attempt to deny the existence of global warming. And while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) once acknowledged the challenges presented by climate change, he’s since decided to toe the GOP line and become a climate denier.

On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have been vocal about the need for continued American leadership to address climate change and about the economic opportunities of a clean energy economy.

Now is the time for voters to hold all candidates accountable for their positions on an issue that’s vitally important to the future of New Hampshire, our country and the planet. Editors, reporters and moderators should ask about the contradictions between the Republican candidates’ positions and those of most New Hampshirites.

NRDC Action Fund’s Weekly News Summary

This is what the NRDC Action Fund has been reading this week: 

Florida is Sinking, but Still Rubio Denies – While panicking Miami policymakers are contemplating dire climate-related matters like the possibility of relocating people and infrastructure, Florida’s two presidential candidates are silent. Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush have ignored the problem. Bush has no constituents to answer to anymore, but Rubio does. On the campaign trail, he brushes off questions about climate change by saying, “I’m not a scientist.” His silence is a stark contrast to the deeds of Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, a Democrat and former astronaut. Last year, Nelson held a rare Senate field hearing in Miami Beach on sea level rise, and he frequently speaks about the issue on the Senate floor. (Newsweek)

Christie Dropped the Ball – At least $181 million was reserved for Sandy-damaged New York State, New York City and New Jersey to support resiliency against floods and disaster, as part of the National Disaster Resilience Competition. But New York state and city alone took home more than that for having strong applications.Meanwhile, the Garden State barely met the minimum score to receive any funding, according to U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro. (WNYC)

UN Climate Chief: Will Next U.S. President Lead on Climate? – In an interview with ClimateWire, Figueres brushed off questions about whether the landmark deal struck in December would be jeopardized if the United States elects a Republican president with a radically different stance on climate change than President Obama. She said she trusted that the current president had put forward a durable commitment, but also predicted the United States would keep its word if only out of self-interest. The world’s largest economy must decide “whether they want to be the leaders of the 21st century or whether they’re happy to be the leaders of the 20th century,” Figueres said. “Which century do you want to be in?” (E&E News)

From One GOP-er to Another: Republicans Needs to ‘Thaw’ on Global Warming – Too many conservative politicians and pundit-entertainers tell us what we want to hear: We have problems, but climate change isn’t one of them. With the data now clearly overtaking the skeptics, the line from some leaders has softened to “I’m not a scientist.” Well, then, let’s listen to the actual scientists. (USA Today)

Fact-checking Cruz’s Baloney Science – Ted Cruz is decidedly at odds with the scientific consensus that Earth is warming because of human activity. A look at some of the Republican presidential contender’s claims on the subject in New Hampshire this week and how they compare with the facts: CRUZ: “The satellites that actually measure the temperature, that we’ve launched into the air to measure the temperature, they have recorded no significant warming whatsoever for the last 18 years.” THE FACTS: Scientists, including those who work with the very satellite measuring system that Cruz refers to, say he’s misusing the satellite data. (Associated Press)

Denier Hall of Shame When federal scientists announced 2015 as the warmest year on record this week, Democrats and environmentalists responded by saying the new mark injected a sense of urgency into the fight against climate change. Republicans, including those running for president, mostly let the announcement slip by unmentioned. GOP candidates have ripped President Obama for his efforts to tackle climate change, arguing the president should be more focused on fighting international terrorism. (The Hill)

Trump Blizzard of 2016 – The GOP candidates for president missed the memo. They are too busy chasing Donald Trump…. Meanwhile, for Trump climate change is a problem to solve like walling off Mexico: “I will be the greatest negotiator with the weather the world has ever seen.” …And so, the Trump blizzard of 2016 is paradoxically more comforting than reality. (Huffington Post)

Voters Grilling GOP on Climate Change Only a couple of weeks remain before the nation’s first presidential primary election in New Hampshire and Republican candidates are campaigning heavily in a vital effort to sway voters. On the stump, they are fielding questions from voters about climate change and energy policy. Here are a few of the questions voters are asking — and what a few of the candidates are saying. (PRI)  

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