Which Way Does the Wind Blow the GOP on Wind?

At the conclusion of the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, said of the president’s victories in Iowa and Colorado that the “wind energy tax credit was an issue in both of those states.” With President Obama supporting the tax credit and Mitt Romney not only opposing the wind production tax credit (PTC) but dismissing wind energy jobs as “imaginary.” Messina believed that wind energy had been a wedge issue for voters in these critically important swing states, a factor in Obama’s victory.

Wind energy will again be a wedge issue in these political and clean energy powerhouse states in 2016. In Iowa, wind energy now exceeds 25 percent of total electricity production according to the American Wind Energy Association. According to the Iowa Wind Energy Association, more than $9.8 billion dollars of capital has been invested in Iowa’s wind farms and manufacturing facilities. Furthermore, Iowa currently ranks third for wind energy employment, supporting 6,000 to 7,000 jobs. With Iowa also serving as the first state to hold primary caucuses, the state’s wind energy industry could prove to be a factor in choosing the major parties’ eventual nominees.

The wind PTC, a performance-based incentive, has helped the US wind industry build more than 550 facilities and contributed to the price of wind power declining by 43% in recent years.  A recent study from the Department of Energy found that wind power could grow from supplying 5% of US electricity, as it does today, to supplying 35% by 2050. President Obama has called for a permanent extension of the PTC to make that clean energy future happen.

Despite the PTC’s success, many in the Republican field seems content to repeat Romney’s mistake of opposing clean energy and advocating to abolish the PTC – either immediately or in the near future. Here’s a rundown of where the current field of likely candidates stands on the issue.

Jeb Bush – This month in Iowa, Bush called for a short-term extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), followed by a 3 to 5 year phase out.

Chris Christie - As governor of New Jersey, Christie signed into law incentives for offshore wind energy, including tax incentives. Christie reportedly “hasn’t clarified” his position on the federal PTC. Encouragingly, the Wall Street Journal reports that he “wouldn’t repudiate the wind tax credit.”

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio - The trio of senators oppose extending the PTC. Most recently, Cruz and Paul voted against a nonbinding Sense of the Senate resolution on the topic. Rubio missed the vote.

Mike Huckabee – The former Arkansas governor has “danced around whether or not he supported the wind energy tax credit…” “I think it needs to be debated,” Huckabee said, adding that no government programs should be given “unquestionable life.”

Rick Perry – While Perry’s home state of Texas is home to huge amounts of wind power, Perry “sounded somewhat contrite for supporting the wind tax credit” and opposes federal incentives.

Rick Santorum – When campaigning during the 2011 primary, Santorum called for a phase out of all tax incentives for energy.

Scott Walker – Wisconsin governor Paul Walker described the PTC as having “served the purpose.” He continued that he “would support phasing that out over a period of time.”

To win in 2016, the party’s leaders should recognize what regular people already know. Polling finds overwhelming support for the wind PTC: 73 percent of registered voters support continuing the PTC, including 63 percent of registered Republicans. It’s time for the Republican presidential field to see that swing state voters want their energy clean and they want it made at home. A climate denier can’t win in 2016 – neither can a clean energy naysayer.

A Climate Christian Reflects on the Cruz Candidacy

When Senator Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy at Liberty University this week, he spoke in phrases intended to resonate with people like me and my family: devout Christians. I come from a long line of people who put Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, and I am raising my children to do the same. Cruz tried to appeal to these values in his speech, yet his claims rang hollow to me.

What I couldn’t get past in the speech was the knowledge that his words don’t match his actions in Washington where he seems to relish creating division on everything from the budget to climate change. He constantly creates fights and fails to prioritize any kind of common ground or service.

While churches across the nation are actively trying to irradiate malaria, or end human trafficking, or address climate change – my church is a proud supporter of the Imagine No Malaria campaign—Cruz is bent on grinding the government to a halt and dismantling policies that help people rather than creating them.

I don’t expect to share Cruz’s views, but I do believe a self-proclaimed Christian candidate should take positive action to improve people’s lives. Cruz seems more interested in being the troublemaker-in-chief than building the city on the hill.

Just look at his nay saying on climate change.

Cruz recently said the “snow and ice” in New Hampshire were evidence that climate change is not happening and the earth is not warming. The facts show otherwise: the 10 hottest years on record have all come since 1998.
Some conservative churches don’t recognize the climate crisis, yet many Christian groups—from the Evangelical Environmental Network to the Southern Baptist Convention to the Roman Catholic Church—understand that climate change is a threat to millions of people, especially the most vulnerable among us.

One of my heroes, Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, does a great job of explaining what’s at stake. Hayhoe is a climate scientist at Texas Tech in Lubbock and an evangelical. She infuses her Christian values into descriptions of the mechanics of climate change: “When I look at the information we get from the planet, I look it as God’s creation speaking to us. And this case, there is no question that God’s creation is telling us that it is running a fever,” she says.

Cruz ignores these facts. That could hurt him with the two-thirds of Americans who believe world leaders have a moral obligation to address climate change, according to a recent Reuters poll. And it could hurt him with the 50 percent of Republican voters who agree the federal government should reduce climate change pollution, according to an AP survey.

There is almost no chance Cruz can secure the GOP nomination. But he could become a folk hero. He could position himself as a more powerful Sarah Palin who rallies the base and pulls the party over to his divisive ways. This is a troubling prospect for all of us who want to serve others and protect creation. In other words, the majority of Americans.

Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Melissa Harrison, NRDC Action Fund, 202-513-6278, mharrison@nrdc.org

NRDC Action Fund Video & Infographic Shows Roadmap to Success for 2016 Candidates

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2015) – With a look toward the 2016 elections, the NRDC Action Fund is releasing Running Clean: Good Policy, Good Politics, which shows that candidates who run clean are more likely to win because they are supported by voters who want a cleaner environment. Running Clean features three environmental champions outlining in their own words their roadmap to success in 2014 by supporting action on climate change and investments in clean energy. Their path to victory on Election Day, is one all 2016 candidates should embrace.

Our 2014 video series contains video interviews with: Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Gary Peters (D-Michigan).  Their hard-fought campaigns demonstrated that America’s leaders will be supported by voters if they embrace a clean agenda that fosters good jobs, healthy families, conservation and a more sustainable future.

“The last election cycle demonstrated again that running clean is not just good policy, but is also a winning political strategy,” said Peter Lehner, NRDC Action Fund Executive Director. “The NRDC Action Fund produced Running Clean as a roadmap for future candidates who want solid evidence that supporting clean energy and protecting the environment will help provide them a path to electoral victory.  Of course, other factors also play a role, but we now have many races over several election cycles which show that all around the country running clean helps candidates win.”

“It’s simple, Running Clean works,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, NRDC Action Fund Director. “Supporting candidates who run on platforms which endorse clean energy investments, protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources will help us grow the environmental majority across America. Candidates from both sides of the aisle should be looking for opportunities to embrace these issues. Ultimately, candidates want to be on the right side of the values represented by their voters and this is a prime example of what’s best for our future.”

In addition to the video series, the NRDC Action Fund also produced its first Running Clean infographic featuring Senator Peters as a roadmap for future candidates who want solid evidence that supporting clean energy and protecting the environment will help provide them a path to electoral victory.

The Running Clean infographic and videos can be found online at: www.nrdcactionfund.org/runningclean

To view the video interviews:

Senator Shaheen

In her video interview Senator Shaheen says, “New Hampshire has for a very long time recognized that we can balance a strong economy and protecting the environment.”

Senator Schatz

In his video interview Senator Schatz says, “We need more leadership in the area of climate. It is the greatest challenge of our generation.”

Senator Peters

In his video interview Senator Peters says, “Clean energy and climate was something that was relevant to everybody, no matter where I was in the state.”

To view the infographic: Winning Strategy

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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.

 

Rick Perry, Still A Denier

Rick Perry is back and this time he’s in it to win it. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Perry left behind the bumbling Tea Party conservative of 2012 and did his best to appear a reasonable, professorial moderate on environmental issues. Yet, even this more polished Perry continued to flub the truth about environmental protection.

Remembering 2012

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Perry is attempting to shed the skin of his last presidential campaign In case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you of the crowning moment of Perry’s 2012 run. During a debate, Perry intended to name three cabinet-level agencies that his administration would eliminate. There was only one problem: Perry couldn’t remember that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy. Oops.

Perry seems to be remaking himself this time around. Not only is his face now bespectacled, but he’s pretending he’s made an about-face on climate denial.

A Denier Can’t Win

It seems Perry has gotten the memo that a climate denier can’t win the White House in 2016. Polling shows that too many Americans are concerned about climate change to give the highest office in the land to someone who ignores this threat to our health, economy, and security.

According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News survey, a full 57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 79 percent of Democrats support limiting climate change pollution from power plants. Closer to home, a Yale poll found that 70 percent of Texans believe in climate change and a majority believe government should be doing more about global warming.

Voters are looking for a leader who will confront the big challenges, not deny their existence.

During the last campaign, Perry said about climate change: “The science is – is not settled on this.”  He went on that “just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”

Perry’s Change of Emphasis

At CPAC, Perry de-emphasized his denial and instead “explained how Texas managed to reduce pollution during an economic boom.” He argued that Texas added people and jobs while reducing nitrous oxide, ozone and carbon pollution through “thoughtful and incentive-based regulations.” He made the similar statements about pollution reduction in his farewell speech to the Texas legislature.

The good people at Factcheck.org have already demolished the content of Perry’s claims, pointing out that he “exaggerates the Texas reduction in nitrogen oxide”, omits pollution from certain sources, and mischaracterized the policies that led to the reductions. In fact, Perry “ignores” two of the biggest drivers of recent pollution reduction in Texas: “the contribution of federal policy to wind energy and the shift away from a manufacturing-based economy.”

While Perry got his facts wrong about the reasons for and statistics behind Texas’s pollution reductions, there is at least one area where he’s got it right: a growing economy and pollution reduction absolutely do go hand in hand. This chart shows that from 1990 through 2008, U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased by more than 64 percent while the six most common air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act decreased 41 percent.

As the 2016 election season warms up, we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Perry and the other candidates hoping to win the White House. A denier can’t win. A candidate who offers climate solutions will.

Jeb Bush Trashes Father’s Clean Air Legacy to Woo Far Right-Wing

Jeb Bush trashed the Clean Air Act last week. He was speaking to the far right-wing Club for Growth, notorious for mounting mostly unsuccessful challenges from the right against Republican candidates during congressional primaries.

A Washington Post reporter attended the speech and posted some of Bush’s remarks on Twitter:

Jeb Bush hits Clean Air Act, airline regulations & Internet regs at Club for Growth — “stifled the ability for people to rise up.”

So Jeb Bush thinks the Clean Air Act “stifled the ability for people to rise up.” Does he mean polluting corporations that a 5-4 Supreme Court says are people?

Or does he mean that loud clamor for ‘rising up’ by ordinary Americans, who consistently voice very strong support for the Clean Air Act and clean air safeguards, with large majorities across the political spectrum Bob Marley, Mr. Bush ain’t.

Jeb Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, signed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 after 89 Senators and 401 House members (including 154 Republicans, all but 16) voted for the law.

President Bush’s signing statement said he took “great pleasure in signing [the Clean Air Act] as a demonstration to the American people of my determination that each and every American shall breathe clean air.”

Newspapers at the time called the president’s signing of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 “the single most distinguished policy achievement of the Bush administration.”

The Clean Air Act is estimated to achieve almost $2 trillion in yearly benefits to the American people by 2020. These vast benefits are delivered in the form of “significant reductions in air pollution” related premature death and illness, improved economic welfare of Americans, and better environmental conditions.” The estimated annual costs to achieve these benefits will be about $65 billion by 2020.

chart 2 jw blog copySo this staggering Bush senior achievement is one that Bush junior singles out for condemnation. It’s bewildering. One might even say it takes one’s breath away.

Does Jeb Bush know of any federal law that accomplishes greater benefits for Americans relative to the cost? Would a law personally acceptable to him need to achieve $3 trillion in benefits compared to an even tinier fraction of costs? Mr. Bush’s applause line for the extreme right does not yield those answers.

Clean Air Act benefits vastly outweighs costs over the entire study period in this exhibit. But what about any impacts to economic growth due to Clean Air Act implementation?

This chart shows that over the period from 1990 through 2008, primarily due to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 signed by President Bush, U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased by more than 64% while the six most common air pollutants regulated by the Act decreased 41%.

chart 1 jw blogStifling, I say.

I cannot help but wonder whether a related clean air benefit prompted Jeb Bush’s condemnation of airline regulations. Does he mean another law signed by his father, one that “banned smoking on all domestic flights of less than six hours?”

I cannot tell you how many flights I have been on since then where stifled passengers were loudly demanding the right to rise up and fill airplane cabins with choking tobacco smoke.

The Post reporter also tweeted this Jeb Bush comment to the Club for Growth: “the first priority for the conservative cause” should be “growth at all cost.”

It makes you wonder what Bush would have said if he were speaking to the Hair Club for Men.

That “growth at all cost” mentality reminded me of an article I had read: “To Tackle Pollution, China to Drop Pursuit of Growth at All Costs.” The “growth at all cost” vision thing espoused by Bush has resulted in China having some of the most despoiled and deadly air pollution in the world.

The Chinese people are rising up alright—against dangerous air pollution.

china pic jw blog

One might even say it’s stifling.

“But, but,” Bush would protest, “that’s an unfair comparison. America’s air quality is nowhere near as bad as China’s.”

Exactly. Thanks to the Clean Air Act that Jeb Bush’s father called “the most significant air pollution legislation in our nation’s history,” a law that “restores America’s place as the global leader in environmental protection.”

 

 

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