The Rest of the Story…

The late Paul Harvey was famous for his “rest of the story” radio shows in which he spoke to the untold portions of on-the-record history. Today, his recorded programs are still extremely popular because in the age of soundbites cut to 140 characters in length, the theme of telling the whole story sometimes get overlooked.

For example, in a recent media interview, I spoke extensively about the positive role the NRDC Action Fund and NRDC Action Fund PAC are playing to help elect environmental champions in this year’s mid-term elections. In what lasted nearly two hours, the interview took many twists and turns, including one regarding fracking moratoriums.  In the follow-up release of that interview, my answer was edited for length and didn’t include the many places where NRDC, the 501c3 sister organization of the Action Fund, is supporting fracking moratoriums. So, for clarity, as Mr. Harvey used to say, here’s “the rest of the story.”

In fact, NRDC has and does support numerous moratoria, including the existing one in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It has called for moratoria on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic, and in other highly sensitive areas off the US west and east coasts. NRDC also calls for moratoria on fracking so that the science – particularly around health impacts – can be further developed before decisions as to whether to move forward are made. Most recently, it has called for a fracking moratorium in California as well as Illinois and North Carolina. NRDC has long supported the ongoing moratorium in New York, where nearly 8 out of 10 New Yorkers support the moratorium. That includes support from different geographic, ideological and racial divides.


Is Scott Brown Running Clean? “Um, No.”

In our next election preview, we turn our attention to the New Hampshire. Voters in the Granite State have the opportunity to re-elect a true champion for clean energy and climate action: Jeanne Shaheen.

Shaheen has a strong and long record on clean energy, climate change and environmental protection. (Heck, her last name even rhymes with “clean.”) When she served as governor, Shaheen signed legislation to reduce four pollutants from power plants, including carbon. It was the first legislation carbon reduction of its kind in the country. In the Senate, Shaheen has consistently voted the right way on the environment. She has a 95% lifetime record from the League of Conservation Voters, having voted against oil company subsidies, in favor of climate action, in favor of clean energy investment and in favor of clean air at every opportunity. In addition, Shaheen has particularly focused her efforts on energy efficiency, sponsoring bipartisan efficiency legislation with Ohio Republican Rob Portman, that could produce a net of $100 billion in energy savings for consumers and create more than 190,000 jobs. Despite bipartisan support for the efficiency measure, it was held hostage by DirtyDenier$ demanding votes to add controversial fossil energy measures to the bill.

The challenger in this matchup, Scott Brown, should be familiar to you if you followed our #DirtyDenier$ series during Congress’s August recess. Brown was featured on Day 6, when we told you about his record during his time as a senator from Massachusetts. Despite his reputation as something of a moderate, Brown turned out to be extreme on the environment, voting to protect subsidies for oil companies and to weaken offshore drilling protections while receiving big bucks from those same oil companies.

Shortly after we profiled him, Brown dug himself into an even deeper denier hole. In late August, Brown was asked whether man-made climate change had been scientifically proven. His answer? “Um, no.”  Brown appears to have realized that New Hampshire voters don’t want to elect a denier. After polling found that 48 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for a climate denier, Brown stated that he now believes the causes of climate change to be “a combination of manmade and natural.”

While he may have walked back from the worst of his denial, it’s clear that Scott Brown remains the same spineless individual he’s been since his first election. Both his “principles” and his principal state of residence are up for grabs. In contrast, New Hampshire voters can elect someone who has stood up strongly and consistently in favor of clean energy. She knows her heart and she knows her home. Only Jeanne Shaheen is running clean.

Climate Change Emerging as Hot Topic in Key Senate Races

The issue of climate change has emerged in nearly every Senate race this election season. Candidates are discussing it, debate moderators are asking about it, and journalists are covering it. Why? Because the vast majority of voters say they are concerned about climate change and want leaders to address it.

That’s good news for lawmakers like Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and Representative Gary Peters (D-MI) who support expanding clean energy and other solutions to reduce global warming pollution.

But it is daunting for the entire slate of Republican candidates who deny the existence of climate change or feign ignorance about climate science. Their polluter friends and wealthy donors don’t want America to tackle this challenge.

The dirty deniers may have money in their coffers. But the climate champions have people on their side. This reality is giving rise to a new maxim: If a lot of people vote, the Koch brothers lose—and Americans win cleaner air and a more stable climate.

Political operatives on both sides have grasped what this means for voter turnout.

In Alaska, for instance, Democratic Party volunteers are boarding bush planes and crossing mountain ranges to encourage more people to vote for Senator Mark Begich. Their outreach is part of a broader Democratic push to win 10 battleground states through one of the most concerted get-out-the-vote efforts on record.

Tea Party supporters, meanwhile, are taking a decidedly different approach.

In North Carolina, the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity has been caught distributing hundreds of thousands of voter registration forms that were invalid and erroneous and would actually get in the way of people casting a ballot.

The group has been tied to similar voter suppression efforts in the past few years in Wisconsin, Virginia, and West Virginia. As the New Republic points out, these efforts go hand-in-hand with new voter identification laws that make it even harder for people to cast a ballot in several states.

Americans for Prosperity is entitled to oppose climate action. After all, disagreeing about how to tackle major issues is part of the democratic process. But interfering with citizens’ ability to vote is not. If the Tea Party want to win, they have to mobilize more people to support their candidates.

That isn’t always easy for them, as the 2012 election demonstrated. Polluters and their allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars to elect pro-polluter, anti-safeguard candidates, yet nearly all their candidates lost.

One of Karl Rove’s Super PACs spent almost $105 million to support or defeat various candidates but was successful in less than 2 percent of its races. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, known for its climate denial and fossil-fuel friendly policies, spent more than $32 million in campaigns but achieved less than 7 percent of its desired outcomes.

Meanwhile, voters favored clean energy and climate champions up and down the ticket. Something similar could happen this year. If people who care about climate change show up—the majority of voters—than the candidates who want to build a safer, more sustainable future will win.



Great Lakes Need a Senator Who will Act On Climate: Gary Peters

What comes to mind when you think of Michigan? Cars. Cherry pie. College football. Zingerman’s bakery maybe. Surely the Great Lakes. As Michiganders think about which Senate candidate will best protect these elements of the Michigan way of life, they’d be wise to look for someone who is running clean. That means looking to Rep. Gary Peters rather than his opponent Terri Lynn Land.

Why do any of those items have to do with running clean? OK, Zingerman’s and college football only have to do with climate change if you consider them to be helpful distractions from the dire news repots about global warming’s effects. But the other items are more directly connected to our warming planet.

The Great Lakes region is threatened by climate change. Changes in winter ice patterns will alter fish populations. The risk of oxygen-depleted dead zones will increase. The accumulation of mercury in fish will accelerate. Forest fires and drought are likely to increase. And the shifting of seasons could make the state less hospitable for cherry trees (and lovers of cherry pie).

Lucky for Michigan, the state’s history as the center of the American auto industry has put it in a position to be part of the solution to the problem of climate change. The state already employs 76,000 workers in the clean energy economy.

Gary Peters is the only candidate who understands how important our response to climate change and our embrace of clean energy will be for Michigan. Peters has said, “Climate change poses a real threat to our Great Lakes and agricultural producers in Michigan, but it also presents an economic opportunity for us to continue leading the nation in clean energy solutions.” He’s been steady proponent of action, voting for climate action and clean energy investment during his years in Congress.

Land, on the other hand, has waffled on the science. Most recently she claimed that “climate change is absolutely real”. She had previously questioned the “extent” to which humans are causing climate change.

While Land may no longer be outright denying the science, she does deny that we can affordably address the problem. Land has repeated the falsehood that addressing climate change costs jobs.

Land twitter

We know that reducing pollution and growing our economy have gone hand in hand for decades under the Clean Air Act. We know that failure to act is costly – perhaps costing the U.S. economy $150 billion per year. We know that the benefits of acting far outweigh any costs. For example, EPA estimates that its proposal for reducing power plant carbon pollution will provide benefits to every American household of $145 in climate benefits compared to $61 in costs. If you account for health benefits, that grows to $375.

With her opposition to climate action, it’s no surprise that the Koch Brothers are working hard to elect Land. After all, there is one sector of the economy that will suffer if we act on climate: oil billionaires and other dirty energy industry titans will lose market share to clean energy companies as we launch a new clean energy economy. That’s may be bad news to the Koch Brothers and Terri Lynn Land, but that’s good news for Michiganders…and cherry pie!

“I’m Not a Scientist”

One moment in the Colorado senate debate this week perfectly captured the GOP’s problematic approach to climate change. During the lightening round—in which candidates are supposed to answer yes or no—the moderator asked “Do you believe humans are contributing significantly to climate change?” Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) couldn’t respond with a one-word answer. He sputtered through long-winded sentences, earning boos from the audience and reprimands from the moderators. “This is an important issue and I don’t think you can say yes or no,” he said.

Ninety-seven percent of scientists would have answered the question the way Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) did: yes.

But this election season, Republicans candidates are trying to sidestep the facts. Many started their campaigns by denying the existence of climate change. Now they are trying to moderate their dirty denier position by proclaiming: “I’m not a scientist.” Marco Rubio (R-FL) started it, John Boehner (R-OH) picked it up, and now Cory Gardner (R-CO), Scott Brown (R-NH, but only when it’s election season), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are running with it.  You don’t need to be a scientist to respond to what the evidence tells you. I’m not a doctor, but I take the medications she prescribes. I’m not a mechanic, but I agree to the repairs he recommends on my car. In other words, it would seem the obvious next sentence after “I’m not a scientist” would be “so I listen to scientists on science matters.”  Instead, it has become “so I ignore all of science.”

Most people are not in legislatures either but they still want their representatives to tackle the issues that threaten our nation—issues like climate change. Yet most GOP candidates are too busy dodging and backpedalling on climate change to actually address it.

If only they had listened to us when we told them voters of all stripes want action on climate change. If only they were sincere in their self-proclaimed more moderate position. But, candidates who once proudly embraced being climate deniers suddenly changing their tune after reading the election tea leaves is worse than just being insincere—it’s misleading.

Voters need to be wary because this new calculated approach doesn’t mean these candidates will act on climate. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Not one of the candidates listed above supports the Clean Power Plan to reduce dangerous climate change pollution. McConnell already threatened to shutdown the government over it, Gardner voted against an amendment that simply stated climate change is real, and Brown can’t seem to pick a position and stick with it.

Thankfully, voters have better options on Election Day. True environmental champions like Gary Peters (D-MI) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have taken a different campaign course than their opponents. They aren’t scientists either, but they have chosen to lead on climate action because they are listening to experts and they are personally seeing the devastating impacts a warming planet is having on their states.

“Climate change poses a real threat to our Great Lakes and agricultural producers in Michigan, but it also presents an opportunity for us to continue leading the nation in clean energy solutions. I am committed to finding practical, affordable, common-sense ways to reduce carbon emissions, promote renewable energy, and strengthen Michigan’s economy.”–Gary Peters

“Coloradans have seen firsthand the harmful effects of climate change, including severe drought, record wildfires and reduced snowpack. Coloradans also have led the nation over the past decade in confronting this challenge and showing how we can reduce carbon emissions, protect our land, water and air, and strengthen our economy.”– Mark Udall

These environmental champions understand that claiming ignorance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence is not acceptable. What will Rubio say to the children growing up in Miami when years from now they ask what happened to the city they once loved? “Don’t blame me, I’m not a scientist” just isn’t good enough from our elected officials. The next generation deserves a better future and a group of leaders who will help build it.


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