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New Polling Confirms Climate Denier will have Hard Road to Win White House in 2016

As 2014 draws to a close, most people are reflecting on what the New Year will bring. The political junkies among us, however, have skipped ahead to 2016 and the presidential race. And we’ve had plenty of material to parse these last few days. Jeb Bush’s announcement that he will “actively explore” a run exploded on Twitter this week, while Senator Elizabeth Warren’s every move has been tracked by analysts.

This week also offered another insight into presidential politics. A new poll released Thursday shows that a climate denier will have a hard time winning the White House in 2016.

The poll, conducted by Harstad Strategic Research surveyed voters in nine battleground states about their attitudes on climate change and clean energy.

Researchers found that more than two-thirds of likely 2016 voters support the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit climate change pollution from power plants.  That includes 87 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans.

Support was especially strong among voting blocs that will play a big role in electing the next president. A full 70 percent of Latino and African American voters, for instance, favor the EPA’s plan to address climate change. The numbers for women were especially interesting. Sixty-two percent of Independent woman and 59 percent of Republican women want the EPA to rein in the pollution that causes climate change and makes air dirtier and more dangerous to breathe.

If voters want the EPA to tackle climate change pollution, then they won’t want a president to pretend the climate threat doesn’t even exist.

Americans expect leaders to tackle the big problems, not ignore them. Climate change is hitting home, and communities across the nation are paying a price. Whether it is record-breaking drought in California or dangerous flooding in Detroit or devastating fires in Washington State, extreme weather is damaging people’s homes and threatening their health and livelihood. People are looking to elected officials and government agencies to confront this crisis.

Republican leaders should take note. The growing momentum for climate action should inform their choice of 2016 candidates. But it should also make them reconsider their positions right now.

Incoming Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to block every effort to reduce climate change pollution, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to continue his course of undermining the EPA whenever possible.

This attack on clean air and climate stability may appeal to polluting industries, but it is not what voters want. The polling released today found that nearly two-thirds of Americans want their US senators to support efforts to address the impacts of climate change on local communities. A full 86 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of Independents, and 43 percent of Republicans agreed.

The Harstad polling—as well as surveys for ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, Gallup, and many others –make it clear that voters want leaders to clean up climate change pollution now, and they will bring that desire into the voting booth in 2016. Putting a climate denier on the ticket or spending two years attacking climate action in Congress won’t appeal to this majority of voters, but a champion who makes the air safer to breathe and shields our families from unchecked climate change will.


Likely 2016 Voters Want Action on Climate Change

NRDC Action Fund Polling: Key Constituency Support for EPA Clean Power Plan is Strong

WASHINGTON (December 18, 2014) – Today the NRDC Action Fund announced key findings from its first poll conducted with a focus on the attitudes of 2016 voters on climate and clean energy issues. The new poll, following the November 2014 elections, shows that despite millions of dollars in polluter campaign attacks, voter support for climate action has remained steady or increased—including from Republicans, Independents, and other key constituencies.

“A climate denier will have a hard road ahead if he or she wants to win the White House in 2016 because green voters intend to show up,” said Wesley Warren, Policy Advocacy Director for the NRDC Action Fund. “It is obvious in our poll results that 2016 voters want action on climate change. Presidential candidates who argue against taking action are going to be aligning themselves against the majority of voters, including those that are typically key constituencies. In addition, 63 percent of voters want their current U.S. Senators to address the impacts of climate change on their local communities—a warning to Senate leadership that voters will not stand for a Congress that tries to roll back progress on climate action.”

Today’s data follows an NRDC Action Fund poll first conducted in February 2014, in nine states, which showed 67 percent of voters surveyed favored an Environmental Protection Agency plan to address climate change that aims to reduce the amount of industrial carbon pollution released by power plants.

Key findings from today’s release include:

  • Two-thirds of likely 2016 voters favor an EPA plan to address climate change that aims to reduce the amount of industrial carbon pollution released by power plants.
  • Groups of voters who will be important in determining the outcome of the 2016 elections are also highly supportive of the new carbon standards.
    • 85 percent of Democratic Primary Voters
    • 71 percent of younger voters (18-39 years old)
    • 70 percent of Latino/African American voters
    • 62 percent of Independent women
    • 59 percent of Republican women
  • Clear majorities continue to see climate change as a serious problem –far more than dismiss it as a problem.
  • A 2-to-1 majority of 2016 voters prefer investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy over coal, oil, and gas.
  • A large majority of voters want their Senators to address the impacts of climate change.
    • 63 percent of likely 2016 voters
    • 62 percent in red states (AK, AR, LA, NC)
    • 64 percent in blue states (CO, IA, MI, NH, VA)

Andrew Maxfield, Senior Vice-President, Harstad Strategic Research added, “Voters know that there is something wrong with the climate, they can see it, feel it, more with each passing day, and most know something needs to be done.  Likely 2016 voters across many key demographics strongly support limits on dangerous carbon pollution, including 59 percent of Republican women. Addressing climate change is an issue both sides of the aisle will need to address in the next election cycle.”

Polling was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, Inc. from November 18-24, 2014. The survey includes 1,206 voters in nine states. It was paid for by the NRDC Action Fund and NRDC. To view: Polling Results Slide Deck

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The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is to grow the environmental majority across America to achieve the passage of legislation that jump-starts the clean energy economy, reduces pollution, and sustains vibrant communities for all Americans. Now is the time for leadership and action from our elected officials — our current goal is a comprehensive clean energy policy that will repower our economy and fuel our future.

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 can not be used interchangeably. Also please note that the word “National” does not appear in Natural Resources Defense Council.

Fond Farewell to Retiring Environmental Champions

Late Thursday night, three of the longest-serving environmental champions in Congress took their final votes. Representatives John Dingell, George Miller, and Henry Waxman are retiring. They surely deserve the rest, but –  oh! – how the environmental community will miss having them in the House. With gratitude, we bid them a fond farewell.

John Dingell


Congressman Dingell is retiring after setting the record as the longest-serving member of Congress ever. He served 59 admirable years, many of them as Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in which he wrote and worked for some of the most important environmental accomplishments on the books. Mr. Dingell describes himself as “an avid conservationist and outdoorsman.” Inspired to protect that great outdoors, Dingell authored and worked to pass many of the laws that we now call “bedrock environmental laws.” Dingell was an architect of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the 1990 updates to the Clean Air Act. He worked to protect wildlife through the National Wildlife Refuge system and to protect marine life through the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

George Miller

millerofficial portrait 2-1

Congressman Miller, the former chair of the House Natural Resources committee, is retiring after serving 40 years in Congress. Miller was a tireless advocate of the environment, especially on the issues of expanding and protection national parks and forests and protecting his state’s water supply. Miller was a lead sponsor of the California Desert Protection Act, which created Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve. Miller spent decades working to improve California’s water quality, restore fisheries and reduce wasteful water use.

Henry Waxman


Congressman Waxman is retiring after 40 years in Congress. During that time, he amassed a long list of legislative accomplishments on behalf of the environment. Representing Los Angeles, Waxman worked from early in his career to reduce the air pollution that plagued his hometown. He was a primary author of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, which addressed urban smog, acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer. Waxman also authored the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act. Waxman was one of the earliest congressional advocates of action to address climate change. He introduced the first climate stabilization bill in congress in 1992 and was the primary author of comprehensive climate and energy legislation that passed the House in 2009. Since then, Waxman has led the Safe Climate Caucus and continued to work for action on climate change.

To these three legislative lions, we offer our sincerest thanks and wish you the happiest of retirements.


Meet the Two House Members-elect Who Took Down Dirty Deniers

In less than a month, we’ll be swearing in the 114th Congress. In too many ways, it isn’t the Congress I wanted. Too many Dirty Denier$ won their races last month and too many clean energy champions will be home in their districts instead of fighting for action on climate change in Washington. However, a strong group of champions will continue to fight for the policies that Americans support. These champs will also have some enthusiastic and committed new members joining the cause. Today I want to tell you about two of these new members who are especially notable because they defeated true Dirty Denier$ opponents on Election Day.

Gwen Graham


Gwen Graham will be heading to Washington to represent Florida’s 2nd District. This panhandle district includes miles of Gulf coastline and Graham’s cites a childhood “exploring our beautiful natural treasures” in the region as the root of her commitment to environmental protection.

Graham began her career as a private sector attorney focusing on energy and environmental law. As a candidate, her views on climate change contrasted sharply with her opponent. Incumbent Steve Southerland was a climate denier, while Graham unequivocally embraced the science, saying, “I agree with the overwhelming majority of scientists that say we should be concerned about the possible effects of climate change.”

Graham’s father, Bob Graham, was a strong supporter of environmental protection, kick-staring efforts to protect the Everglades as governor ad earning an 81 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters for his time in the U.S. Senate. I agree with Gwen that “conservation shouldn’t be a partisan issue” and hope she will continue her father’s legacy of advancing common-sense policies that protect the environment.

Brad Ashford


Brad Ashford will be representing Nebraska’s 2nd District, which encompasses the state’s capital, Omaha. Ashford, an attorney and state legislator, is expected to offer far greater support for environmental protection and clean energy than the member he’s replacing, Lee Terry.

Terry is a climate denier, who doubted “the true impact of man” on the world’s climate. Terry earned an abominable 9 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters for his consistent votes to undermine bedrock environmental laws, continue subsidies for Big Oil, and to stop climate action. Terry has also been one of the leading proponents of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would travel through Nebraska, threatening the state’s water supply and agricultural industries.

Ashford, though he signed a letter indicating support for Keystone, also voted to authorize a study of the environmental impacts of the pipeline. He has also pledged to support incentives for clean energy sources like wind and solar power. That’s already head and shoulders above the Dirty Denier$ he’s replacing.


I’m looking forward to welcoming these new members of congress to Washington in the new year. We’ll be watching and urging them to live up to our high hopes that they will govern as they ran – by Running Clean.

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