Who Votes Dirty? 

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Washington doesn’t have the bright lights and flashy showgirls of the Vegas strip, but some lawmakers sure seem to have adopted Vegas’s motto. Unfortunately for them, what happens in Washington is no longer going to stay in Washington. Thanks to a newly designed whovotesdirty.com website, it’s easier than ever for concerned citizens to find out the truth about the voting records of their elected officials—and the dirty industries that help get them in office.

WhoVotesDirty.com is a new one-stop shop for holding lawmakers accountable when it comes to clean air and clean energy. Americans from across the political spectrum and from every part of the country strongly support strengthening protections for clean air, investing in clean energy and acting on climate change. So, why aren’t their Representatives and Senators in Congress consistently voting in favor of these clean policies? Maybe receiving thousands of dollars from dirty energy interests is clouding their view—just like their dirty air votes are polluting our skies. Their votes to increase pollution may be harming the hearts, lungs and brains of Americans, but armed with the facts, our voices will be stronger than ever.

WhoVotesDirty.com puts the facts about dirty votes and dirty money at voters’ fingertips.It makes it easy to speak out and hold Dirty Air Villains accountable. Here’s how it works:

  1. Find your elected officials. Search your zip code or a lawmaker’s name.
  2. Villain or hero? Officials are clearly labeled as villains or heroes. Villains vote dirty at least 80 percent of the time, while heroes vote clean at least 80 percent of the time. Anyone not labeled falls somewhere in the middle.
  3. Dirty money. The amount of money received from polluters is clearly displayed. You may notice a trend: those receiving more money from polluters tend to vote dirty more often than those receiving little money from polluters.
  4. See the votes. Click on any legislator to see exactly how they voted on every major clean energy or clean air bill, resolution and amendment from the last three years.
  5. Talk back. A link to each lawmaker’s Twitter feed is embedded right into the website. When you find out your elected representatives are Dirty Air Villains, you are just 140 characters away from reminding them that they answer to their living, breathing constituents, not the Big Polluter industriesthat bankroll their campaigns.

Let’s take it for a spin. Say you are from Louisville, Kentucky. Let’s get started by putting in your zip code.

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What do you find? Ouch, two very villainous senators when it comes to clean air and clean energy.

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Wow. Senator Mitch McConnell received $3.8 million from polluters and the newly-announced 2016 presidential contender, Senator Rand Paul, received $235,890.

At least your House Member, Rep. John Yarmuth is a clean air hero!

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Let’s take a closer look by clicking on Mitch McConnell to see his envrionmental voting record. It’s not pretty—11 dirty votes in the last three years. A 100 percent record of voting against clean air and clean energy. No wonder the NRDC Action Fund is holding him accountable on the airways with our new ad bringing to light his first 100 Dirty Days pushing the Big Polluter Agenda.

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It’s time to take action. Let’s send him a tweet right now.

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You just helped unmask lawmakers who have already been voting as Dirty Air Villains, showing them that their anti-health, anti-environment priorities are not going unnoticed. But, to make your voice heard when it really matters—before the votes are cast—click on the “take action” and “join us” tabs at the top of WhoVotesDirty.com to stay informed in real-time of pending votes and opportunities to speak up.

Sorry, Dirty Air Villains, WhoVotesDirty.com is taking what happens in Washington to every living room, office and mobile phone in your district.

NRDC Action Fund Launches Ad Marking Mitch McConnell’s First 100 Days, Unveils Website Showing Congressional Villains and Heroes on Climate & Clean Air

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melissa Harrison, mharrison@nrdc.org, 202-513-6278, or Elizabeth Heyd, eheyd@nrdc.org, 202-289-2424

WASHINGTON (April 15, 2015) – As Mitch McConnell marks his first 100 days as Senate majority leader, the NRDC Action Fund today unleashed an ad blasting him for standing with “dirty polluters,” and introduced a first-of-its-kind website enabling users to track dirty votes by members of Congress and campaign contributions from polluting industries.

The five figure “100 Days of McConnell”  ad, running on social media channels, hits the Kentucky Republican for leading a GOP agenda to try to dismantle the first-ever carbon pollution limits on power plants. These standards, the ad’s narrator says, “will save as many as 6,000 lives per year, slow climate change, and are supported by most voters.”

At the same time, the WhoVotesDirty website, www.whovotesdirty.com, enables users to identify the “villains” throughout Congress who vote against clean air and climate action, and the “heroes” who vote to protect communities and health. The website, which encourages users to hold lawmakers accountable through social media, also tracks contributions from dirty energy interests.

“Senator McConnell’s first 100 days of protecting polluters’ interests certainly do not bode well for his next 100 days. The question is: Where will McConnell’s fellow senators stand—with the polluters or with families who want to protect their children and their health?” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, director of the NRDC Action Fund. “We’re shining a spotlight on those who vote against the best interests of their constituents, who many times are in the dark about what’s happening in Washington. The time has come to make sure that—unlike Las Vegas—what happens on Capitol Hill doesn’t just stay there.

“Clean air and climate protections are vital to protecting our children’s health and ensuring a brighter future for all generations,” Taylor-Miesle added. “And our new tracking system will arm constituents with an easy to use tool to hold their members accountable for voting against those life-saving interests, and instead to protect dirty energy and dirty air.”

The redesigned website uses sophisticated data from the government watchdog group Sunlight Foundation and cutting-edge data-gathering technology to provide real-time information to the public and others revealing how members of Congress are voting on clean air and climate action measures, as well as contributions they receive from polluters from the oil & gas, electric utility and coal mining sectors. The website encourages users to hold members of Congress accountable by sharing the information through social media channels.

“Who Votes Dirty is a compelling use of the legislative and campaign finance information made available through our free and open data offerings,” said Amy Ngai, the Partnerships and Training Director at the Sunlight Foundation. “By using Sunlight Application Programing Interfaces (APIs), the tool takes advantage of real-time data such as bill status and voting records to provide a dynamic and interactive interface for users.”

The enhanced www.whovotesdirty.com is currently tracking 49 pieces of climate and clean air legislation and/or amendments in Congress since September 2011. Based on these votes, the website shows that 293 members of Congress are dirty air villains.  This includes 50 Senators and 243 House members.

What makes a member of Congress a hero or villain? NRDC Action Fund policy experts identify the votes that have the greatest impact or potential to impact clean air and climate policy. Members who vote against clean air 80 percent or more of the time are considered “Dirty Air Villains.” Those who vote to strengthen protections 80 percent or more of the time are considered “Clean Air Heroes.” All other members have no assigned status.

Of the 243 Dirty Air Villains in the House 241 are Republicans and two are Democrats. In the Senate, 49 Republicans are Dirty Air Villains, and one Democrat is a Dirty Air Villain.

The upgraded WhoVotesDirty website utilizes several software tools developed by the Sunlight Foundation. It is refreshed daily and pulls voting records and polluter contributions for every member of Congress. It allows a user to simply input his/her zip code to quickly identify if his/her members of Congress are “Dirty Air Villains” or “Clean Air Heroes.”

Users can also utilize the name search function to find specific lawmakers. And, through additional functionality, users can take the data and tweet directly on Twitter to the member’s official twitter account.

The NRDC Action Fund will promote the site on a regular basis and key votes on climate and clean air legislation. Promotion will include paid online advertising, aggressive social media outreach and earned media channels with reporters and bloggers throughout the United States.

Listen to audio recording of the press conference: http://bit.ly/1OCpRGB

The WhoVotesDirty website can be viewed here: www.whovotesdirty.com

To view the McConnell 100 Days ad, please click here: http://bit.ly/1GHYYjl

The text of the ad follows:

“Mitch McConnell spent his first one hundred days as Senate leader trying to dismantle carbon pollution standards.

“Standards that will save as many as 6,000 lives per year, slow climate change, and are supported by most voters.

“He’s taken more than three million dollars from dirty polluters and has no plan to protect the environment or public health.

“Will your senators stand with Mitch McConnell and dirty polluters, or with families who want to protect their children’s health and future?

“Paid for by the NRDC Action Fund.”

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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. www.nrdcactionfund.org

The NRDC Action Fund is an affiliated but separate organization from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 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 therefore needs to be identified as from the NRDC Action Fund. Use of the label “Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund” is incorrect; the only correct title is the “NRDC Action Fund.” In other words, 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.

 

 

Secretary Clinton’s Record

When it comes to what the American people are looking for in their next President, there is fairly broad consensus on topics of clean air, clean water, and being a good steward of our environment. For months now, we’ve been saying that a climate change denier will have a hard time winning the White House in 2016. Multiple public polls back this up. In one such poll, 53 percent of Republican voters and 87 percent of Democratic voters support the EPA’s plan to limit climate change pollution from power plants. Key voting blocs of Independent women (62 percent) and Republican women (59 percent) want the EPA to rein in the pollution that causes climate change and makes air dirtier and more dangerous to breathe.

With her announcement today that she is formally running for President, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who’s entered the race that isn’t a climate denier. But it’s not going to be enough to simply acknowledge that climate change is real and happening. The country needs bold leadership and willingness to fight the Big Polluter Agenda and its seemingly unlimited funding.

Secretary Clinton’s campaign is brand new and we haven’t yet heard from her in detail her plans to act on climate. What we can do is look to her record:

  • She testified before Congress multiple times about a US commitment to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and reducing carbon pollution. She’s cited climate change as a threat to human security, food security, and national security.
  • From her first trip to China as Secretary of State, she placed a heavy focus on getting China to agree to deal on global warming (which later happened in 2014). In many of her overseas trips she stressed the importance of energy efficiency and investing in renewable energy.
  • Secretary Clinton ranked climate change 2nd on her list of 21st century challenges that countries are facing. She encouraged a new way of tackling challenges and cited an international climate coalition (called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition) as an example of an innovative approach.
  • As a Senator, Clinton had an 87% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters (until it got reduced by 5 points for missing votes while on the 2008 presidential campaign trail). We hope that we can work with her on those negative votes, like on offshore oil drilling, to convince her that we need to transition off of dirty fuels.
  • Former White House advisor John Podesta, who led many of the Obama administration’s climate change efforts, has joined her presidential campaign.

At this early stage in the 2016 election, our hope is that every presidential candidate will come out strongly for action on climate change. We’re excited today that Hillary Clinton may be such a candidate. In 2014 she said, “the unprecedented action that President Obama has taken [on the Clean Power Plan] must be protected at all cost.” As a new grandmother and as the former chief foreign affairs officer of our nation, Clinton fully understands what’s at stake.

We are looking for a leader who will work tirelessly to commit to cut carbon pollution by at least 28 percent by 2025, and thereafter to achieve even greater reductions as required by sound science, and lead a transition to an economy powered by clean, renewable and efficient energy. We need someone who will demonstrate the global leadership needed to get our partners around the world to do their part to protect the well-being of the planet through strong international agreements, and defend and strengthen the fundamental safeguards that protect our air, water, lands, and wildlife.

The American electorate is ready for nothing less.

Clinton’s Candidacy Ensures a Robust Debate On Combating Climate Change

Contact: Elizabeth Heyd, 202-725-0648 (cell), eheyd@nrdc.org

WASHINGTON – Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her candidacy for president of the United States on Sunday.

Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC Action Fund, made the following statement:

“Hillary Clinton’s candidacy ensures that America will have a robust debate about how we must respond to the central environmental threat of our time–climate change. We look forward to hearing–and evaluating–every candidate’s plan to address the issue.”

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The goal of the NRDC Action Fund is to grow the environmental majority across America. The Action Fund is growing power in the places that always matter around the country, so that together we can protect public health and the environment. www.nrdcactionfund.org

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.

 

Goodbye to Two of our First Green Female Champs in the Senate

Today is the last day of women’s history month. This year, two fantastic women senators will mark the ends of their historic Senate careers. Senators Barbara Boxer and Barbara Mikulski have served a collective 70 years in Congress. In those decades, they’ve established themselves as strong environmental champions.

Barbara Mikulski

Senator Mikulski has represented Maryland in Congress since she was first elected to the House in 1976. She is now the longest-serving female member of Congress in history.

Mikulski has demonstrated a consistent commitment to environmental protection and clean energy throughout her decades in Congress. She has earned a lifetime score of 84% from the League of Conservation Voters. She’s consistently voted to act on climate change, to support clean energy and to improve and uphold bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Air Act.

Mikulski’s environmental passion has been saving the Chesapeake Bay. According to her own website, “Mikulski fights to improve the Bay’s health and looks out for the people who depend on it for their livelihoods.” A report from E&E News described Mikulski as someone who saw “the estuary as not just an ecological gem, but a driver of the region’s blue-collar economy, providing jobs for watermen and shellfish for restaurants, and drawing tourists to the state.” Mikulski has consistently worked to improve the bay’s water quality, habitats and fisheries. In a statement on her retirement, Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said: “It is hard to imagine how the Chesapeake Bay will survive without Sen. Mikulski. Just as her beloved oyster is a keystone species in the Bay’s ecology, Sen. Mikulski has been a political cornerstone of support for saving the Bay.”

Barbara Boxer

First elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 using the slogan “Barbara Boxer Gives a Damn”, the junior senator from California has lived up to her promise. Boxer has given a damn time and again when it comes to environmental protection. Boxer has not only earned a lifetime score of 90% from the League of Conservation Voters, she has been a leader on many of the most important issues in recent decades.

As the Chairman and now Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer has led the charge to fight off attacks on lifesaving Clean Air Act protections. In 2010, Boxer helped defeat a resolution that would have overturned EPA’s scientific finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. In 2011, Boxer led the opposition to a resolution that would have overturned EPA’s regulation to control air pollution that crosses state lines. In 2012, Boxer again helped lead the opposition in stopping a resolution that sought to block EPA’s first-ever standards to control mercury and other hazardous air pollution from power plants.

In recent years Boxer has been a critical leader in stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline and working to forge solutions to comprehensively address the dangerous carbon pollution that causes climate change.

In addition, Boxer has been a champion for safe drinking water, leading efforts to reduce arsenic and lead in drinking water and to improve community right-to-know protections regarding drinking water contaminants. She has also worked tirelessly to preserve California’s precious public lands. Boxer has protected more than 1 million acres of federal public land in California as wilderness including along Northern California’s Coast in Big Sur and the Los Padres Forest. Boxer also championed legislation that converted Pinnacles National Monument and San Francisco’s Presidio into National Parks and legislation that expanded Sequoia National Park.

Looking Ahead

I know we’ll miss these two green champions when they leave the Senate at the end of the year. However, the Senate women have come a long way, thanks in large part to the leadership and example of Mikulski and Boxer. We now have a tremendous bench of women senators who will carry the torch – like recent Running Clean leaders Jeanne Shaheen and Mazie Hirono.

We’ll be looking forward to the new generation for leadership in climate action and creating a clean energy future, but we’ll be sure to look back at Mikulski and Boxer for inspiration.

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