#DirtyDenier$ Day 20: Senator James Inhofe

James Inhofe

Though the winds often come sweeping down the plains in Oklahoma, they have not blown hard enough to clear away the misguided, misleading views of Senator James Inhofe. Inhofe is a top ranking Dirty Denier because of his campaign funding from dirty sources and his terrible votes against the environment.

In addition, Inhofe wrote the book, literally, on climate denialism (The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, published in 2012). His whacky views on climate change take a page from the playbook of the most conservative groups promoting dirty fossil fuels. And if Republicans take control of the Senate, Inhofe would be in line to be chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where he would have a stranglehold on environmental progress.

He has received an astounding $1,671,521 in contributions to his campaign committee and Leadership PAC from the oil & gas industry over the course of his political career, including $489,250 in the 2014 election cycle alone. Among his top contributors are individuals and political action committees associated with Koch Industries, the multinational corporation run by the libertarian oil baron Koch brothers and their cronies, and a leading funder of climate change denialism, and  Murray Energy, the largest underground coal mining company in America, which has sued the EPA multiple times and has an outspoken climate changer denier as CEO.

Oil companies ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Exxon Mobil, and OGE Energy are also among the top Inhofe contributors over the course of his career. Maybe they like Inhofe’s  outrageous claims, such as calling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a “Gestapo bureaucracy”, and saying that “those individuals from the far left want us to believe it’s because we are contributing CO2 to the atmosphere, that’s causing global warming. It’s all about money.”

He has launched a full-on attack of the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan. Inhofe consistently votes against the environment: he has taken numerous votes against cleaning up carbon pollution, against cleaning up pollution in our air and water from power plants and industrial farms, and against funds for disaster relief and shoreline planning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Yet he strongly supports subsidies for the oil, gas and coal industries despite their record profits and lower than average tax rate. This is why he has a lifetime score with the League of Conservation Voters of only 5 percent, among the very worst in the Senate.

Our advice: While Senator Inhofe continues to deny humans are contributing to climate change, 67 percent of Oklahomans want “the government to step in and limit greenhouse gas emissions from industry.” Senator Inhofe needs to start aligning his votes with his constituents. It’s time for action to protect Oklahomans and Americans across the country from the health and environmental impacts of the dirty, old fossil fuels industry.

Dirty Denier$ Day 19: Congressman Fred Upton

Fred Upton

Today’s Dirty Denier$ is Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan and Chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton has used his leadership position to try to move the nation backward, and his record on clean air and climate change keeps getting worse.

Upton has been all over the map on the facts about climate change.  In 2011, he said he didn’t believe humans are contributing to global climate change. Since then, he’s been mostly silent on that basic issue, but he’s been loud in his opposition to doing anything about climate. He has used extreme rhetoric to characterize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, calling it “an unconstitutional power grab that will kill millions of jobs” and a “train wreck.

And consider that one of the first bills that Upton sponsored upon assuming the chairmanship of the committee would have permanently blocked EPA from doing anything at all to address carbon pollution. Moreover, the bill would have increased America’s dependence on oil by undermining efficiency standards for motor vehicles, and cost consumers $58 billion. Upton has also given his blessing to multiple bills to undo various aspects of the Clean Air Act.

The dirty fuel interests that have given nearly $2 million in campaign contributions to Upton over the course of his career are no doubt pleased with his record. However, the same can’t be said for his constituents back home. According to recent polling from the NRDC Action Fund in key states including Michigan, overwhelming majorities of voters in that group of states support strong action to stop dangerous carbon pollution. This includes 53% of Republicans. Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder has said, “People may not agree about why climate change is happening, but it is certainly affecting Michigan.”

Michigan has a lot to gain from a clean energy policy. In 2013 alone, Michigan announced more than 1700 jobs in the renewable energy sector, placing it 12th in the country for new job creation. And in a signal that better days are ahead for both the economy and the environment, 380 of those jobs were in clean vehicle manufacturing.

Our advice: It’s time for Congressman Upton to once again reinvent himself. It’s time to stop being a Dirty Denier$ and start being a clean energy champion for his state.



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.

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