NRDC Action Fund Ads Thank Senator Kirk For Clean Power Plan Vote

kirk cra thanks ad nov 2015CHICAGO (November 25, 2015) –The NRDC Action Fund kicks off a digital ad campaign today thanking Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) for a vote against a Congressional Review Act resolution that would have repealed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan rule to cut dangerous carbon pollution from America’s power plants.

Kirk was one of three Republicans in the Senate to vote against the resolution – a critical test vote on climate policy. The measure passed 52-46 and President Obama has promised to veto it.

“Senator Kirk went against his party with this vote, and supported a specific action to combat climate change,” said NRDC Action Fund Midwest Director Henry Henderson. “His vote to support the Clean Power Plan was important, but it does not erase other serious environmental missteps made this year when he voted against clean water. We hope Senator Kirk will continue standing up for Illinoisans and not polluters on these important environmental issues moving forward.”

Earlier this year, Senator Kirk cast the deciding vote in favor of blocking the Clean Power Plan. Since then, NRDC has been calling on Senator Kirk to support action to combat climate change, as he generally did previously in his career. Last week, Senator Kirk voted in favor of a resolution to limit the protection of water under the Clean Water Act. Separately, Senator Kirk also voted to slash funding for clean water infrastructure and to block implementation of the Clean Water Rule, which would restore clean water protections for streams, wetlands and headwaters that flow into drinking water supplies.

Polls show that Illinoisans are ready to fight climate change and advance clean energy. A recent bipartisan poll released by NRDC shows that nearly two-thirds of Illinoisans support the Clean Power Plan and 8-in-10 Illinoisans support the state plan to cut carbon pollution.

More Information:

• Further information NRDC’s Illinois climate and clean power polling can be found at


The “Bipartisan Bust” – Attack on EPA is Losing Ground in the Senate

McConnellThe headline in yesterday’s Washington Examiner reads:  “Greens: GOP support for climate rules rising.”  If you are asking yourself right now what that means, here’s the story.…

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attack on the Clean Power Plan this week was supposed to demonstrate to the world the strong bipartisan opposition to the United States’ first ever limits on dangerous carbon pollution from power plans. His party has a majority in the Senate, but the measure passed by a not very strong majority of 52 votes—nowhere near the 67 votes needed to make it veto proof.

Even more problematic for McConnell and his polluter allies, though, is that the vote ended up showing that the Clean Power Plan actually has bipartisan support, and enough of it to ensure that it will keep moving forward.

What happened when the time came to vote?  As the New York Times reported:

“Three moderate Republicans, two up for re-election next year, Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, as well as Senator Susan Collins of Maine, broke from their party to vote against the resolutions and back the environmental regulations.”

What explains the loss of Republican momentum in the attacks on the EPA? E&E News explained the actions of Senators Ayotte and Collins this way:

“Of the three Republicans who voted to keep the plan in place, Ayotte and Kirk are part of a recently formed Republican working group on environment and energy issues.

“Ayotte, who is in a tough re-election battle with New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, last month publicly announced that she was in favor of the Clean Power Plan. Kirk, though, was the target of an aggressive campaign by environmentalists after reports surfaced that he was planning to vote in favor of the resolutions. He is also vulnerable next year.

“After the vote, Collins touted Maine’s actions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. She said she was concerned that global warming was adding to pollution-linked asthma issues and a higher incidence of lime disease as ticks’ habitats shift to the north.”

The backstory on Senator Kirk is even more interesting.  According to the National Journal, “Kirk is one of many moderate Republicans facing a tough reelection (National Journal’s Charlie Cook has rated the race a tossup).”  And as Energy Guardian explained:

“Kirk, who faces a tough re-election challenge from Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, took fire from environmentalists in June for a vote against the power plant carbon limits in an EPA and Interior appropriations bill. Groups had charged Kirk with casting the “deciding vote” for language that would have blocked funding for the rules.”

(NRDC, by the way, was one of those groups that held Senator Kirk accountable last summer.)

An aide for Senator Kirk elaborated to Politico:

“‘Senator Kirk today voted to improve air quality and reduce rising childhood asthma rates,’ a Kirk spokeswoman said in a statement explaining the senator’s vote. ‘With our diverse energy portfolio, Illinois is already leading the way in energy efficiency and is well positioned to balance the needs of the environment and the economy.'”

So, the next time you hear someone saying there is bipartisan sentiment in the U.S. Senate to roll back the EPA Clean Power Plan, please set that person straight.  What’s growing is the bipartisan support for the Clean Power Plan. And that’s not speculation or any political tea-leaf reading.

The votes prove it.

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With This Congress, a GOP President Could Damage Environment

trump bushThroughout four Republican debates and plenty of campaign coverage, GOP presidential candidates have said little about how they would tackle climate change or protect the environment. Yet voters concerned about clean air, clean water and climate stability need only look to Congress to see what a Republican presidency could mean for public health and environmental protection.

Since gaining a majority, GOP lawmakers have tried to eviscerate the bedrock environmental laws that have protected America’s air, water and health for decades. The public doesn’t support these efforts. And the veto pen has killed any serious threats that have made it through the entire Congress. But proposing and passing dirty bills sends a powerful message (including to super PACs—many funded by polluting industries) that if a Republican is in the White House environmental laws will be gutted.

The Republican-led attacks in Congress have intensified as primary season nears. The Senate just passed a resolution that would kill the new Clean Water Rule, which restores protections for America’s streams, lakes and wetlands. That was followed by a vote this week on a resolution to wipe out the Clean Power Plan. And tensions are mounting over policy riders to funding bills that limit the federal government’s ability to safeguard against reckless fracking and conservation measures for endangered species.

Republicans will lose all of these battles. President Obama has promised to veto their anti-environmental bills and Republicans don’t have the votes to override those vetoes. Though they may slip a few riders through, their assault appears destined to fail this year—as it has in the past.

Yet many bills undercutting public health and environmental protections have garnered nearly 100 percent support from Republican lawmakers and less than 5 percent from Democrats. While some were blocked in the Senate, many of those bills would have become law if Obama had lost.

None of the leading Republican presidential candidates have offered a positive agenda for preserving the environment. Instead, they have embraced the party’s conservative hostility to any form of regulation—including those that keep pollution out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. When asked about the EPA, Donald Trump said simply, “What they do is a disgrace.” Even supposed “moderates” such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie oppose the Clean Power Plan.

And yet, this return to darker, dirtier days is not what the vast majority of Americans want.

Voters of both parties want to provide their families with clean air and water, public lands to explore and home towns safe from extreme floods, drought and other hallmarks of climate change.

A full 94 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans favor the Clean Water Rule protections for headwater streams and wetlands, according to a survey from Hart Research Associates. And 90 percent of Americans back the Endangered Species Act, according to a recent poll, and support stretches across the political spectrum.

Meanwhile, poll after poll after poll shows the vast majority of Americans want leaders to tackle climate change. And most Republican voters support clean energy. Seven in 10 conservative voters in early primary states want the next president to have a clean energy plan, and three-quarters of those voters want their state to submit a plan to comply with the Clean Power Plan, according to a survey by American Viewpoint.

The current GOP initiatives in Congress would block the very protections most voters support. But they would make life easier for polluting industries. Oil, gas and coal interests have spent billions of dollars in the past few years to elect and influence ideological lawmakers who will eviscerate our nation’s safeguards and halt climate action.

Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail are letting polluting companies know what they can expect from future GOP leadership. Americans should take note and vote for their own public interest—not dirty polluters.

Vulnerable GOP senators side with Obama on Clean Power Plan

kirkThe U.S. Senate’s vote tonight to kill President Obama’s Clean Power Plan won’t accomplish that, given a White House promise to veto the measure, but the final vote may be instructive for those trying to read the political tea leaves ahead of the 2016 elections.

Two endangered Senate Republicans seeking re-election next year – Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark Kirk of Illinois – voted with nearly all the Senate’s Democrats to keep recently published EPA rules limiting carbon pollution intact. They were joined by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Ayotte announced her intention to support the Clean Power Plan last month, saying she made the decision to “address climate change through clean energy solutions that will protect our environment,” but green groups including NRDC were unsure how Kirk would vote up until the moment he gave a “thumbs down” gesture on the floor of the Senate tonight.

With polling showing strong support among the American electorate (and GOP primary voters) for both the Clean Power Plan specifically and, more generally, concrete political solutions to addressing climate change, it’s no surprise that vulnerable Republicans are siding with a majority of voters. Running on clean energy solutions to climate change has become smart politics.

$52 Million in Big Polluter Contributions Behind Lawmakers Trying to Block the Clean Power Plan

industry-80956_1920The Senators co-sponsoring the latest attack on the Clean Power Plan have taken more than $52 million in campaign contributions from big polluters, according to a new analysis of data from the NRDC Action Fund’s website Data are provided to by the Sunlight Foundation and are based on contributions from the Oil & Gas, Electric Utilities and Coal Mining sectors, as reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

As of today, 49 Senators have co-sponsored a resolution to disallow the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a move that would completely repeal the nation’s first-ever limits on dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. The resolution, which is allowed under the Congressional Review Act, would also make it difficult for EPA to reduce carbon pollution in the future.

Now, it’s been widely reported that President plans to veto the measure, and there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to override his veto. So why would lawmakers go to all this effort to if they can’t stop the Clean Power Plan anyway?

Good question. Climate risk just seems to be something that most Republican lawmakers feel obligated to trivialize, and climate solutions something they feel obligated to oppose. Maybe it’s because the Republican Party has no plan of its own. Any formal admission that something needs to be done leads would immediately raise the question of “what”?

But hey, that’s speculation. It’s hard to know what is motivating each one of these anti-science, pro-pollution Senators, but we know who has been helping them stay in office.  Big polluters are filling the campaign coffers of those who stand in the way of climate progress.  And those big polluters aren’t spending all that political money out of the goodness of their hearts.

The average anti-Clean Power Plan co-sponsor has taken just over $1 million from polluters. Senator John Cornyn of Texas has taken the most—$5.4 million over the course of his career. Denier-in-Chief Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma has taken $3.2 million. And the Senate’s ringleader, the man directing reckless efforts to block climate action, Senator Mitch McConnell has taken $3.8 million from polluters during his career.

There are some nascent attempts to get the party to think more deeply about these issues. Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina  earlier this week announced a working group to discuss solutions. But they obviously have a lot more thinking to do. While Senator Ayotte has declared she will support the Clean Power Plan, Senators Graham and Alexander are co-sponsors of the measures to repeal the CPP. Kirk reportedly said he’d back repeal.

In the meantime, our planet keeps warming up. What’s at stake? Well, just our health, and the fate of future generations. When the Clean Power Plan is fully in place in 2030, carbon pollution from the power sector will be 32 percent below 2005 levels. Sulfur dioxide will be down by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides down by 72 percent.

Those reductions in harmful pollution will in turn prevent 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work days and school days, each year. That’s on top of the climate benefits that come from cooling down our planetary fever. Combined, this would benefit the American people to the tune of $26 – $45 billion.

Just as importantly, the Clean Power Plan shows that the U.S. has finally gotten serious about doing something about climate change, spurring other major greenhouse gas-emitting countries around the globe, including China and India, to commit to cutting their carbon pollution. That’s going to help get a meaningful global agreement on climate, marking the first time that the world has come together in a serious way to tackle climate change. But if the Clean Power Plan were to be repealed and the U.S. unable to fulfill its commitments, other countries would probably walk away from theirs.

Which raises the question of why Senators like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are so determined to let China and India off the hook. The complaint from deniers for the last twenty years has been “why should the US take action when other countries aren’t?” Well, we finally have those other countries at the table. Now isn’t the time to let them walk away. Not for the polluters, and not for any amount of campaign money.

If you’d like to track how your Senators are voting on key environmental issues, check out It tracks the campaign contributions and climate and clean air of every member of Congress, and lists their total contributions from big polluters. NRDC Action Fund policy experts identify the votes that have the greatest potential to impact clean air and climate policy.

Senator Co-Sponsoring
Measure to Repeal Clean Power Plan
Career Contributions from Polluters
Sen. Alexander (R-TN) $1,108,122
Sen. Barrasso (R-WY) $1,093,632
Sen. Blunt (R-MO) $1,530,696
Sen. Boozman (R-AR) $266,904
Sen. Capito (R-WV) $1,298,822
Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) $1,479,406
Sen. Coats (R-IN) $626,916
Sen. Cochran (R-MS) $899,980
Sen. Corker (R-TN) $1,055,454
Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) $5,378,412
Sen. Cotton (R-AR) $979,610
Sen. Crapo (R-ID) $625,198
Sen. Cruz (R-TX) $1,866,136
Sen. Daines (R-MT) $965,964
Sen. Enzi (R-WY) $1,024,366
Sen. Ernst (R-IA) $50,900
Sen. Fischer (R-NE) $212,640
Sen. Flake (R-AZ) $421,320
Sen. Graham (R-SC) $492,750
Sen. Grassley (R-IA) $522,600
Sen. Hatch (R-UT) $1,309,258
Sen. Heitkamp (D-ND) $337,000
Sen. Hoeven (R-ND) $611,674
Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) $3,229,136
Sen. Isakson (R-GA) $521,028
Sen. Johnson (R-WI) $242,300
Sen. Lankford (R-OK) $1,398,770
Sen. Lee (R-UT) $180,430
Sen. Manchin (D-WV) $512,500
Sen. McCain (R-AZ) $5,342,638
Sen. McConnell (RKY) $3,814,138
Sen. Moran (R-KS) $827,392
Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) $1,432,970
Sen. Paul (R-KY) $235,890
Sen. Perdue (R-GA) $50,900
Sen. Risch (R-ID) $379,100
Sen. Roberts (R-KS) $1,486,800
Sen. Rounds (R-SD) $50,900
Sen. Rubio (R-FL) $529,240
Sen. Sasse (R-NE) $50,900
Sen. Scott (R-SC) $604,802
Sen. Sessions (R-AL) $761,100
Sen. Shelby (R-AL) $571,400
Sen. Sullivan (R-AK) $50,900
Sen. Thune (R-SD) $1,370,624
Sen. Tillis (R-NC) $50,900
Sen. Toomey (R-PA) $887,232
Sen. Vitter (R-LA) $2,207,770
Sen. Wicker (R-MS) $1,210,252
TOTAL: $52,157,772


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