Cruz not telling the truth about global warming “pause”

cruzIn the U.S. Senate, witnesses at committee hearings swear to tell the truth. Unfortunately, the senators grilling them don’t take the same pledge, so Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won’t be sanctioned for misleading a Judiciary Committee panel this week with claims of a supposed “pause” in global warming, which he hopes will sow doubt about the accepted science behind climate change.

This isn’t the first time Cruz and the climate denier community have focused on a disputed claim that there has been no increase in global temperatures over the last 15 to 18 years, nor is it the first time actual scientists have had to debunk his conclusions.  A March 27 Fact Checker column in the Washington Post looked at Cruz’s comment on a late night TV show that “satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years, there’s been zero warming.” The Post delved into the science behind the issue and gave Cruz three out of four Pinnochios, finding his claim was “mostly false.”

Carl Mears, a physicist and senior scientist at Remote Sensing Systems whose work was cited by the senator’s staff in defending Cruz’s claim, has since come forward in the Post to reject the way his data is being used by Cruz:

Mr. Cruz…likes to cite statistics about the last 17 years because 17 years ago, the…observed temperatures were substantially above normal… When one starts their analysis on an extraordinarily warm year, the resulting trend is below the true long term trend. It’s like a pro baseball player deciding he’s having a batting slump three weeks after a game when he hit three homers because he’s only considering those three weeks instead of the whole season.

Even more recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a study concluding that there has been no pause in global warming during the years cited by Cruz. “The new data include more extensive and improved surface air temperature observations taken at thousands of weather observing stations over land, and for ocean sea surface temperature there are new observations from commercial ships and drifting surface buoys,” writes Antonia Herzog, Deputy Director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

During his hearing this week, Cruz also ridiculed the idea that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity is contributing to the warming of the planet, saying the figure had been discredited. But when watchdogs such as PolitiFact look into it, they find climate deniers are cherry-picking evidence for that claim. A review of nearly 12,000 climate abstracts published between 1991 and 2011 found that more than 97 percent of papers expressing an opinion on the matter endorsed the consensus that human activity contributes to climate change. NASA has long backed up the claim of overwhelming scientific consensus on man-made climate change, and a recent study of the broader scientific community found nearly 92 percent of non-climate scientists agree. There is overwhelming scientific agreement that the energy choices we make have a significant influence on our climate.

Scientists don’t ignore new evidence when it contradicts earlier theories, but it seems Sen. Cruz and the climate deniers are not interested in any data or study which contradicts their own ideology or threatens the party line fed to them by their fossil fuel industry benefactors. That allows them to stand before the American people and refuse to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Photo: Flickr user jbouie.


NRDC Action Fund endorses Cortez Masto for Senate

cortezmastoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 7, 2015

Contact: Denis Dison, NRDC Action Fund | | 202-717-8293

Washington – Catherine Cortez Masto today earned the endorsement of the NRDC Action Fund, a national organization working to build political support for protecting the planet and its people. Cortez Masto is a former Nevada attorney general and the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2016 election to replace Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is leaving the U.S. Senate at the end of his current term.

“We’re proud to stand with a candidate who will fight for Nevada’s clean energy future,” said David Goldston, NRDC Action Fund’s director of government affairs. “Catherine Cortez Masto understands that protecting the environment for our kids and creating clean energy jobs go hand-in-hand.”

“I am grateful for the support of the NRDC Action fund and their recognition of my record as a problem solver who works with both parties to get things done for Nevada,” said Cortez Masto.  “In the Senate I will fight to end wasteful taxpayer giveaways to Big Oil companies, protect Nevada’s public lands for future generations, and support Nevada’s clean energy industry that is already creating good-paying middle class jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.”

The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is to build political support in the United States for protecting the planet and its people. We mobilize influential constituencies, experts, community leaders and others to directly advocate for clean air and water, public health, biodiversity, and a stable climate. We support candidates who stand up for environmental protection, and we expose those who side with polluters rather than the public good.

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.

What Would a Speaker McCarthy Mean for Clean Energy?


Most pundits agree that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the most likely choice to replace John Boehner when he leaves his post as Speaker of the House at the end of October. So what would a Speaker McCarthy mean for a clean energy future and action to address climate change? If you thought things were bad the last five years, hold on tight.

John Boehner Was a Friend to Polluters

First, let’s note that the House under Boehner was already being run as an assembly line cranking out every piece of the Big Polluter Agenda as fervently and frequently as possible. In the first four years of Boehner’s speakership, the House took an astounding 551 anti-environmental votes. That’s a shocking commitment to weakening bedrock environmental laws, increasing pollution, sacrificing public health and blocking the clean energy revolution. Boehner was a climate denier in the “I’m-not-a-scientist” camp who did all he could to block action to address the planet’s greatest environmental challenge.

McCarthy rated a “Dirty Air Villain”

So, yeah, things are pretty bad already in the House. And McCarthy’s likely to make them worse. As RL Miller, founder of Climate Hawks Vote, said in InsideClimate News, “McCarthy’s going to be horrible.” His Kern County, California district is the hub of the state’s oil industry, producing more oil than all but three states in the nation. As noted on, polluters have donated $1.4 million to McCarthy’s campaigns in the decade since he first ran for Congress in 2006. He’s an on-the-record climate denier, and his voting record is an abysmal 3% from the League of Conservation Voters.

How Can Things Get Worse?

Boehner 1

[Photo source:]

How can things possibly get worse than they already are? We have to keep in mind that Boehner was essentially ousted for not being conservative enough. McCarthy is selling himself as the more conservative alternative to a guy who already allowed an average of more than 100 anti-environment votes per year. McCarthy is going to be looking for ways to prove he’s a true friend of the most conservative wing of the party. He might do this in several ways:

  1. Giving a bigger voice to the Tea Party wing of the party. While polling shows that a majority of Republicans recognize the threat of climate change, agree that humans contribute to it, and favor taking action to foster clean energy, there is a group of holdouts. The Tea Party wing of the party is the most likely to deny climate change and oppose action. Yet this group is probably going to hold greater sway with Speaker McCarthy than they did with Boehner, and he may seek to elevate them in the party’s leadership or alter House rules to give more power to the rank-and-file.
  1. Refusing to cooperate with President Obama. Boehner was portrayed as too cooperative with President Obama. Though Boehner passed no significant energy bills that were signed by the President, Speaker McCarthy would be even less likely to enact energy legislation. We already saw a previously bi-partisan energy bill blow up in committee this month with the addition of controversial policies killing the bill’s Democratic support. Some were still holding out hope that a package of clean energy tax incentives might go forward, but with McCarthy already on the record opposing the wind incentive and having little reason to agree with Obama, I’m more skeptical than ever that these important incentives or other positive incremental policies will be extended or enacted.
  1. Will he make the environment a line in the sand? Among Boehner’s final accomplishments was a continuing resolution to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. There’s a laundry list of “riders” that the Tea Party would like to attach to any future funding bills — everything from defunding Planned Parenthood to stopping just about every pro-environment executive action taken by President Obama. Will a Speaker McCarthy shut down the government in a quest to undo the Clean Power Plan or another EPA rule? He might try.

We’ll be here to keep tabs on what a possible Speaker McCarthy is doing — and to remind you that, for now, the only backstop to the Big Polluter Agenda is the White House. If McCarthy’s in the Speaker’s chair, electing someone who cares about climate change in 2016 will be more important than ever.


Congressional Candidates Should Lead on the Clean Power Plan

When Hillary Clinton announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, she made clear the main reason for her decision: the threat of global warming. Clinton called the pipeline “a distraction from the important work we have to do on climate change.”

Clinton is not alone in emphasizing climate change on the campaign trail. Every Democratic presidential candidate has made clean energy and other climate solutions a central part of their platform. Smart Congressional candidates are doing the same.

They understand that addressing climate change will make America stronger. They also know the vast majority of voters are looking for climate leadership.

More than two-thirds of Americans support government limits on carbon pollution, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. And 48 percent of Republicans said they were more likely to cast their ballots for candidates who tackle climate change, according to a New York Times/Stanford survey.

This election cycle, many Congressional candidates are demonstrating their commitment to climate action by supporting the Clean Power Plan. This national plan gives states a great deal of flexibility in how they reduce carbon pollution from power plants. All 50 states will gain new jobs, cleaner air and savings on energy bills. In other words, the Clean Power Plan touches on what most voters care about most: health, jobs and savings accounts.

Plenty of GOP leaders will continue to be mired in climate denial and inaction, but strong candidates will lead on the issue. NRDC Action Fund research found that candidates who run on clean energy and climate action are more likely to win their races. Talking about the benefits of the Clean Power Plan will help them do it.

Public Health: Cleaner air means fewer trips to the ER for our kids’ asthma or our parents’ heart attacks. Yet climate change contributes to higher levels of smog, which is linked to respiratory illness, heart conditions and premature deaths. The EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan will help reduce this pollution and prevent 90,000 asthma attacks a year. This will be especially welcome news in Florida, Colorado, and others states home to a large number of Latinos, 50 percent of whom live where pollution levels are often too toxic to breathe safely.

Savings Accounts: Spending less on energy bills puts more money in our pockets. The fastest and cheapest way for states to meet their carbon pollution limits is to help people make homes and businesses more energy efficient. Incentives for installing efficient windows, furnaces, air conditioners and other solutions will drive down energy use—and the cost of our monthly bills as well. In addition, the EPA is offering states extra incentives to help low-income communities put money-saving energy efficiency measures in place. Taken together, the Clean Power Plan will help Americans save a total of $155 billion on our electric bills between 2020 and 2030.

Economic Growth: The clean energy economy is booming. Renewable energy attracted $38 billion in investments in American communities last year, and that’s just the beginning. Renewable projects are expected to roughly double by 2030 under the Clean Power Plan, and efficiency programs will also expand. This will generate more good-paying jobs in every state in the nation. Candidates can point to the success of clean energy industries in their states as a sign of the growth to come. For example, Indiana Senate candidate Baron Hill can say that his state is already in the top 10 for clean energy job growth. And, in the crowded race to fill Senator Marco Rubio’s seat in the Senate, for instance, campaigners can highlight the 130,000 Floridians working in the clean energy sector, 100,000 of them in energy efficiency.

Future Generations: Climate change is already hitting home. Candidates have all too many examples of how it can intensify extreme weather, from prolonged drought in Nevada to recording-breaking downpours in Indiana to repeated flooding at high tide in Florida. But they can also offer a solution. Reducing carbon pollution today will help shield future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to act now.

GOP can run clean too

Republicanlogo.svgA new poll released this week reveals that most Republican voters recognize the threat of climate change and that humans contribute to it. The majority of conservative Republicans agree. And nearly three-quarters of party voters favor “taking action” to foster clean energy.

For several years now, NRDC Action Fund analysis has shown that candidates who champion clean energy and climate action are more likely to win their races.  In the past, those winners tended to be Democrats, since so few Republicans engaged on the issue.

The new poll confirms that Republican candidates can run on climate change and win their races too.

The survey was conducted by three leading GOP pollsters and funded by Jay Faison, an entrepreneur and self-described Christian conservative from Charlotte, North Carolina. They found that 56 percent of Republicans believe in climate change and the vast majority support clean energy solutions. A full 87 percent of conservatives favor tax incentives for homeowners who feed solar power back into the grid.

These views influence how people cast their ballots. Sixty-three percent of Independents, for instance, would rather vote for a candidate who supports strong federal limits on carbon pollution than a candidate who says, “The science around climate change is not at all clear, so the government should focus on more important issues.”

Other polls have found similar results. About half of GOP voters say they are more likely to favor a candidate who wants to address the climate challenge, according to a New York Times/Stanford poll. And nearly three-quarters of Republican voters say they support government limits on carbon pollution, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found.

Voters of both parties are looking for leadership on this issue. They see extreme weather pummeling communities–from prolonged drought in California to heavy rains in the Midwest and record-breaking fires in the Pacific Northwest. They also see wind farms and solar panels spreading across the landscape, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and generating pollution-free power.

Most Americans embrace candidates who tackle the climate threat and promote clean energy solutions. Democratic voters have rewarded these candidates in the past three election cycles, and Republican voters seem poised to do the same. The trouble is their leaders haven’t gotten the message yet.

Jeb Bush released an energy plan on Tuesday that ignored climate change and failed to mention renewable power. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have refused to say climate change is caused by humans. And only one GOP presidential candidate–Bobby Jindal–has offered specific plans for cutting carbon pollution. Republican leaders in Congress, meanwhile, attack climate action and clean energy incentives at every turn.

These positions are out of step with most Republican voters, but they suit influential donors from the fossil fuel industry. The Koch brothers alone have vowed to spend $889 million on the 2016 cycle, and they adamantly oppose government measures to address climate change.

Candidates who persist in climate denial and paralysis may attract hefty donations, but they will soon start alienating the many Republicans who care about energy security, clean air, economic opportunity and a stable future for their children.

It’s time for GOP candidates to recognize that addressing climate change isn’t just good public policy, it’s good politics.

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