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Dirty Denier$ Day 18: Congressman Ed Whitfield

Ed Whitfield

Today’s Dirty Denier$ is Congressman Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky who chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. From that perch, Whitfield has been a general in the fight against the so-called “War on Coal.”  Unfortunately for Americans who breathe, Whitfield’s battle has amounted to a War on Health that would have devastating consequences if he were to succeed.

Whitfield has earned a dismal 15 percent lifetime League of Conservation Voters score, and has had particularly bad years since assuming a leadership role; in 2013, Whitfield earned a mere 7 percent. Whitfield’s most significant energy legislation this term was H.R. 3826, which would, according to NRDC’s David Hawkins, “prevent EPA from doing anything meaningful to reduce carbon pollution from America’s biggest source of that pollution: coal and gas-fired power plants.” This Polluter Protection Act passed the House, but has thankfully stalled in the Senate. Whitfield wants to pursue this plan because he sees “no benefits” to reducing carbon pollution.

In addition, Whitfield has sided again and again with Dirty Denier$ in votes to undermine bedrock environmental laws, block clean energy and prop up dirty fuels. He has voted in favor of offshore drilling and drilling in pristine Bristol Bay, he’s voted for Big Oil giveaways and against reducing smog, soot and toxic air pollution like arsenic and mercury.

It’s no wonder Whitfield so perfectly fits the mold of a Dirty Denier$, when you look at who bankrolls his campaigns for Congress. Whitfield has received a whopping $694,115 from electric utilities, $475,497 from oil and gas companies, $310,377 from mining companies and  $277,506 from railroads that want to continue shipping trains full of coal to power our country’s power plants. That’s more than $1.75 million from dirty energy interests.

Our advice: Congressman Whitfield should learn the many benefits of reducing pollution. Lives saved, asthma attacks prevented, and heart attacks avoided just to name a few.


Dirty Denier$ Day 17: Congressman Rodney Davis

Rodney Davis

On climate change, Rep. Rodney Davis’ actions certainly speak louder than words.

We’ll give small bit of credit to the first-term congressman from Illinois’ 13th District for publicly acknowledging that “climate change is real.” He even added in a candidate questionnaire:

Many factors contribute to changes in climate, both man-made and natural. Regardless of your views on global warming, we should all agree that reducing our dependence on foreign oil and cutting air pollution without doing economic harm to our citizens will benefit our national security, environment and public health.

Ever hear the saying, talk is cheap? Rep. Davis hasn’t followed up his words with actions. In fact, he’s done just the opposite — voting at virtually every opportunity to block action on climate change.  Maybe he doesn’t want his constituents to know his voting record.

He supported the Whitfield bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing standards to control dangerous carbon pollution from power plants, the Cassidy veto bill giving other federal agencies power to overrule those EPA climate pollution limits, and the  REINS bill (of which he was a co-sponsor) to make it next to impossible to ever put in place any health or safety standards, regardless of the problem being addressed.

Davis also voted against the Schakowsky amendment  to recognize the scientific fact that greenhouse gas pollution is contributing to climate change. That’s outright climate denial.  And Davis voted for an amendment to prevent federal agencies from assessing the costs and dangers of climate change.

Rep. Davis’ record on reining in Big Oil is just as bad. He backed a giveaway to Big Oil, voted against federal restrictions on using dirty fuels, and voted to promote more offshore oil and gas drilling. For all this, he’s earned a deplorable 4 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

But to be sure, one group likes this DirtyDenier$ lawmaker—the right-wing House GOP leadership, for he’s been a reliable champion of their radical anti-health and anti-environment agenda. In reward, the National Republican Congressional Campaign put him in its ‘Patriot Program’, intended to help him raise campaign cash, and his largest donations, $427,000, come from so-called Leadership PACs set up by congressional colleagues. Davis’ campaign also has taken in $92,500 from oil & gas interests, $90,500 from mining interests and $67,000 from utilities.

Our advice: Rep. Rodney Davis is far out of step with most Americans who want clean air, land, water and for the government to do something about climate change. And he needs to show some leadership by embracing his own words by taking action on climate change.


Dirty Denier$ Day 16: Congressman Henry Cuellar

Henry Cuellar

100% … 70% … 51% … 49% … 29% … That’s the sound of Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-TX) national score from the League of Conservation Voters plummeting over the last five years. Indeed, after scoring a perfect 100 percent in 2009, Rep. Cuellar scored just 29 percent in 2013.

That 29 percent score includes votes to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safeguards designed to protect public health and the environment from toxic coal ash and to stop the Department of the Interior from reducing methane emissions from oil and gas drilling operations on public lands. (Methane is a super pollutant with an impact on climate 20 times greater than carbon dioxide.)

On his official House website, Rep. Cuellar practically boasts about his 2014 vote to prohibit the EPA from taking ANY action or consideration of carbon pollution to address climate change, and to exclude carbon pollution from the definition of air pollutants. Yet back in 2009, Cuellar voted yes on the House bill to take action on climate change.

We did a little digging and found an interesting pattern. It turns out that while Rep. Cuellar’s pro-environment votes went way, way down, his contributions from the oil & gas industry went up – way, way up.

In 2006, Cuellar took in $52,100 from Big Oil, which was the 6th largest industry contributing to him. In 2008, the industry rose to being his 3rd largest source of contributions. In 2010 and 2012, it was the single largest source, giving him $96,375 and a whopping $117,700 in those two cycles respectively.  Polluters seem to be willing to reward dirty votes handsomely.

Our advice: Given that Texas is expected to face some of the more dire impacts of climate change than any other state in the country, we hope Rep. Cuellar will go back to standing up for action against climate change, even if it means losing out on cash from mega-polluting political donors.

DirtyDenier$ Day 15: Congressman Steve Daines

Steve Daines

Reading through Montana Rep. Steve Daines’ list of campaign contributors is like looking at a who’s who of dirty polluters. Daines, who is currently running for Senate, has received more than $240,000 in polluter contributions and the Koch Brothers’ are among his top two contributors. In fact, Daines and the Koch Brothers are so intertwined that Daines’ former campaign manager has just been hired to lead the new Montana office of the Koch-sponsored Americans for Prosperity.

The Kochs and their dirty energy allies have received a tremendous return on investment for their backing of Daines. Daines has been a reliable vote in favor of dirty energy interests and against addressing climate change and advancing clean energy. Daines sponsored H.R. 4850, which would block action on climate change by rewriting the Clean Air Act to prohibit EPA from limiting carbon pollution at new or existing coal-fired power plants. Daines has voted for legislation that would threaten Montana hunting, fishing and hiking on public lands by giving drilling a priority over these conservation uses, and he’d prefer to subsidize dirty fossil fuels than to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. He has a dismal lifetime score of only 4 percent from the League of Conservation Voters.

Daines is also a true Dirty Denier when it comes to intentional ignorance on climate change. And while science tells us that Montana’s climate is already changing, Daines believes that “solar cycles” are causing climate change – a view discredited by the scientific data. He also, isn’t sure whether humans are causing climate change. It really seems like Daines has his fact and his fiction mixed up because he definitely believes there is a “War on Coal.”

Our advice: Daines should start thinking like his constituents, who support EPA limits on carbon pollution from power plants and who trust experts at EPA, not Congress, to set those rules. He ought to get himself out of the #DirtyDenier$ club.

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