Daily Dirty Denier$

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

Daily Dirty Denier$

NRDC Action Fund to Expose #DirtyDenier$ During August Recess

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2014) – For some members of Congress casting dirty votes and accepting campaign contributions from polluters is a normal day in Washington. But, this August, as members return home to face voters, the NRDC Action Fund will expose some of them for exactly who they are: dirty deniers. Beginning August 4, the NRDC Action Fund will name “Daily Dirty Deniers” each weekday, featuring members (#DailyDenier$) who allow polluters to foul our air by casting dirty votes and accepting dirty money.

“As we approach the dog days of summer, I can only think about how hard it is to teach an old dog new tricks,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, NRDC Action Fund Director. “With 99 days until the mid-term elections, the same old polluters and polluter allies, cue the Chamber of Commerce, Koch Brothers and Karl Rove, are running the same old attack ads, using the same old lies and scare tactics, and hoping the American public is none the wiser. We can’t let representatives and senators off the hook for voting against our best interests. So this August we are holding them accountable.”

The NRDC Action Fund will highlight 20 total members during the August recess which leads into the unofficial kickoff to election season. The “Daily Dirty Denier$” campaign is focused on bringing attention to these member Congress while they are home and trying to convince voters they have their best interests in mind. We will expose:

  • House members who have now voted almost 200 times in just this Congress to weaken or eliminate environmental protections;
  • How outside polluter money is being used to support #DirtyDenier$;
  • Why polluters lost in 2012 and why they will lose again in 2014; and
  • Support for climate action specifically among the rising American electorate.

The #DirtyDenier$ campaign will also encourage voters to get hold these members accountable by spreading the message that protecting our environment isn’t just good policy, it’s good politics. The daily blog will be available beginning Monday, August 4 at www.nrdcactionfund.org and on Facebook and Twitter. To read more about the campaign and the relentless Republican assault on basic health and environmental protections visit: XX.

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The NRDC Action Fund’s mission is to grow the environmental majority 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

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 can not be used interchangeably.  Also please note that the word “National” does not appear in Natural Resources Defense Council.

Daily Dirty Denier$

Dirty votes and dirty money. For some members of Congress this is a normal day in Washington.

This August, as members return home to face voters, we will expose some of them for exactly who they are: dirty deniers. Starting August 4, the NRDC Action Fund will name “Daily Dirty Deniers” each weekday. These #DailyDenier$ will feature members who allow polluters to foul our air by casting dirty votes and accepting dirty money.

Why Expose Them Now?

As we approach the dog days of summer, I can only think about how hard it is to teach an old dog new tricks. With 99 days until the mid-term elections, the same old polluters and polluter allies (cue the Chamber of Commerce, Koch Bros. and Karl Rove) are running the same old attack ads, using the same old lies and scare tactics, and hoping the American public is none the wiser. We can’t let representatives and senators off the hook for voting against our best interests. So this August we are holding them accountable.

What’s at Stake?

Since 2012, the Republican-led House and the Democratic majority in the Senate have been stalemated. Some have declared it gridlock. I’d argue it differently. What we are witnessing is actually trench warfare to block a relentless Republican assault on basic health and environmental protections.  If the fossil-fueled politicians have their way, it will only get worse. So far, we’ve been lucky: for every Republican effort to pass a destructive rider or launch an attack on the Environmental Protection Agency, there is an environmental champion digging in to protect our air, land and water. But, our champs need our support so we can win these battles decisively and move on.  If deniers are successful in November, we will be having to spend a lot of time playing defense when we need to make major strides to complete the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.  This is especially important in the Senate, where the President’s Clean Power Plan will face the most crucial votes.

The Koch Brothers alone are estimated to spend $390 million in targeted races this year. In fact, reports in March already had them at the $30 million mark. Their goal? Protect dirty deniers who will, in turn, follow a right-wing agenda and protect the Koch’s polluting interests.

Why Polluters Will Lose Again

Two years ago we endured a long election season, but entered the winter excited that Americans had re-elected a pro-environment President and environmental champions to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Even though polluters spent big, more than $150 million in ad campaigns by mid-September, they had very little to show for it. At the time I wondered if this could be the turning point for many in the Republican Party. Would they see the error of their Tea Party ways and finally return to the roots of their party, which once prided itself on conservation? The answer turned out to be a resounding “no.”

Many of them actually doubled down on their dirty votes. House members have now voted well almost 200 times in this Congress to weaken or eliminate environmental protections. This defies logic. Support for climate action is only growing stronger, especially among the rising American electorate: women, Latinos, and millennials. Without the support of these voting blocs, candidates on either side of the aisle don’t stand a chance of winning. In our recent battleground polling, voters from multiple demographic groups overwhelming supported reducing dangerous carbon pollution. This includes 53 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Democrats. Even when we used opponents’ arguments  voters supported our arguments for addressing climate change by a 22-point margin.  Yet polluters continue to spend money on anti-environment ads and dirty air villains continue to vote to allow polluters operate with impunity.

We Need You to Act

Taking on dirty polluters and their hand-picked congressional allies isn’t easy. We need you to help us spread the message that protecting our environment isn’t just good policy, it’s good politics. Will you commit to sharing #DirtyDenier$ on your favorite social media channels? You can also visit online pages of the deniers to let them know you’re unhappy with their dirty votes or highlight their destructive views in a letter to the editor of your local paper. You can get the #DirtyDenier$ every weekday starting Monday, August 4 at www.nrdcactionfund.org and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Koch brothers may have more money, but we have more people. Together we will act to stop the deniers’ agenda because: “It’s reckless. It’s radical. It’s relentless. It’s wrong.”

 

“Denge”

In a land where East meets West and old meets new, Turkey feels like and unlike every place I have ever traveled. Like Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus, Turkey hangs in the “denge” (the Turkish word for balance) between its long-history beginning in the cradle of civilization and a modern infrastructure and growing economy.

Today’s Turkish politics demand discussions focused on both domestic and foreign policy. Unlike the United States, where candidates and voters tend to narrowly focus on national issues like jobs and the economy, Turks don’t have the luxury of separating the internal and external policies. Shared borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria lead to constant worries about economic and social stability. And after spending a day on the Syrian border with refugees, it’s no longer surprising to me that energy policy isn’t at the top of the Turks discussion list, let alone an easy subject to unpack.

But, these are the great things about traveling to a new country; opening yourself to different cultures, ways of thinking and breaking your pre-existing expectations. Like assuming energy policy would dominate every conversation in this Middle East country that is dependent on its fossil fuels from Russia. In fact, according to one political science professor I spoke with, Turkey spends nearly $55 billion a year for energy from Russia alone. Along with worries about violence in nearby border countries, Turks are also concerned about Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine and how Russian President Vladimir Putin’s standing in the world could impact fuel prices.

And while it may not be the first topic on the afternoon tea discussion agenda, energy policy and energy efficiency were engrained in my day-to-day experiences. Every hotel I stayed in required key card access to turn on the electricity in the room. This meant I couldn’t charge my iPad during the day, but it also meant that I was keenly aware of my personal energy consumption.

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Energy usage aside, no advanced energy visual was as striking as standing in Mesopotamia on the Stone Age Mountain Sanctuary archeological dig contemplating the meaning of “old” when I saw solar panels. Below me, 10th and 9th millennium BC artifacts were unearthed, but next to me stood a modern, clean, renewable energy source powering the dig.

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This would seem like the perfect dichotomy, but rather it is the quintessential struggle of the country on many fronts. How do you keep the rich traditions and history of your religion and nation, while growing your economy and positioning yourself as a leader among other Middle East nations?

Like a choose your own ending book, Turkey stands on the cusp of the choice between what some would call a total authoritarian rule or the potential of becoming a truly democratic society. With just a few weeks until their first national democratic presidential elections, Turkish voters face a clear choice. But with half the electorate under the age of 30, it’s still to be seen whether or not they will come out to vote.

With the announcement that current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will run for President, energy policy is likely to slide to the back burner, while serious allegations of mistrust of his leadership are debated by the electorate, including corruption allegations and freedom of the press. Just two weeks prior to my arrival in Istanbul, CNN reporter Ivan Watson, was detained by police on live television. And while visiting with journalists from Turkish television and newspapers, I learned of the numerous news stories they are currently prohibited by law from being reported on, including the recent situation in Iraq when ISIS militants kidnapped Turkish diplomats at their consulate in Mosul.

While nine days in a country doesn’t make me an expert, I tend to agree with Turkish Member of Parliament Aykan Erdemir, who shared with our group that what Turkey needs most right now is a government focused on a comprehensive security plan. A plan that provides security from things like climate change and cyber threats, while also providing the necessary answers for other pressing issues like housing costs and healthcare concerns.

While no democracy is perfect, the only true chance for progress in Turkey is under a fully functioning democratic government. So like every first Tuesday in November in America, this August 10, I will be closely monitoring election results, only this time it will be in anticipation of what’s next for Turkey.

 

Melissa Harrison is the Communications Director for the NRDC Action Fund. She traveled to Turkey as a Truman National Security Project partner with the Rumi Forum. This is the first blog in a series she will write about her journey.

Hobby Lobby, Climate Change, and the GOP’s Women Problem

More than 200 women brought their children to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to clean up the air pollution that causes climate change. The event was called a “Play-in for Climate Action”—you can’t expect all those kids to stay still for a traditional “sit-in”—and included a press conference with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Around the same time, GOP lawmakers in the House were busy drafting a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from doing the very thing those mothers want: clean up carbon pollution from power plants so their children have a better future.

Welcome to the latest battle in the Tea Party’s war on women. This conflict isn’t getting as much attention as the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, but it could play a significant role in who wins and loses the midterm elections.

Republican and Democratic candidates have already worked the Hobby Lobby case into stump speeches, fundraising appeals, and attack ads. Yet few people will vote on the Hobby Lobby ruling alone. Most voters cast ballots based on a cluster of issues that matter most to them.

One negative story about a Tea Party position that hurts women would not turn the midterm tide. But these days, the stories are mounting. GOP candidates are alienating women voters on a host of issues, from reproductive health to equal pay to climate change.

When did climate change become a women’s issue? When women made it clear they care deeply about it. Women in battleground states understand (by a margin of 72 percent to 19 percent) that we have a moral obligation to future generations to make the air safer to breathe and the climate more stable. Climate change increases smog and contributes to asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. If we don’t act now, the next generation will pay a steep price, and most women want children to inherit a brighter future, not one plagued by unchecked climate hazards.

And yet nearly every single Republican candidate running for office in the past few years—from the presidential level on down—has ignored, denied, or belittled the threat of climate change.  Right now, GOP leaders are attacking the EPA’s new “Clean Power Plan.” This plan would unleash wind and solar power, boost energy and cost savings, and finally hold power plants accountable for the enormous amounts of carbon pollution they spew into our air.

Blocking this kind of climate action isn’t just bad policy; it’s bad politics.

Women are one of the emerging voting blocs that will matter most in this election, along with Latinos and young people. Many female voters are likely to view Tea Party stance on climate change as yet another position that turns them off.

Republicans can’t afford that. In the 2012 presidential race, women favored the Democratic ticket by 11 percentage points.  Unmarried women voted for President Obama over Governor Romney by 67 percent. Those single women, it turns out, could be the soccer moms of this election—top Democratic strategists are already trying to appeal to them.

Some Republicans may be listening to what women want. Over the past few months, GOP leaders have hedged their climate bets; they have moved from outright denial to modest demurral. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), and Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio (R-FL) have all said they don’t have the scientific background to assess the risks of climate change. This hardly constitutes a bold approach to a matter of national security, but it does suggest some Republicans realize that climate denunciation is a losing position.

Candidates who stand for climate action, meanwhile, can cast themselves as champions of clean air, public health, good jobs, and a brighter future for our children—a set of issues that appeal to many women voters.

 

 

Longer than Pinocchio’s Nose

We all remember the childhood story of Pinocchio and the valuable life lesson it taught us about the importance of telling the truth. I’ve repeated the same story to my own children in hopes that a growing nose may dissuade them from lying.

Unfortunately, the Pinocchio story doesn’t seem to have impacted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or Crossroads GPS. In fact, they down right ignored the four Pinocchios given by the Washington Post to a Chamber report which grossly exaggerated carbon emission reductions under the Clean Power Plan.

Now their long noses are poking into the political realm with a new television ad against environmental champion Mark Udall in Colorado. Crossroads GPS just dumped $460,000 into attack ads which site the previously debunked report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

I wish I could say I’m surprised. But, it’s the same old tired play from their political playbook. These fossil fuel funded opponents know they don’t have the science or public opinion on their side, so they resort to their standard scare tactics: job loss and higher electricity rates.

The only surprise here is that they are still trying these failed strategies. It didn’t work in the 2012 election cycle.  Despite their best efforts and extremely deep pockets, fossil fuel backers lose much more often than they win. The last election cycle their win rate was a measly 5 percent versus the environmental community and our champions. For an industry highly focused on its return on investment, they don’t have much to show their investors when it comes to the electoral politics of climate change. This goes to show that the big money is not always the smarter money.

Our 2014 battleground state polling, which included Colorado, also shows that more than two-thirds of voters say the EPA should limit carbon pollution from power plants. This includes 53 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Independents, and 87 percent of Democrats.

I’m confident that as voters sniff out the truth this November, it won’t take them long to find these modern day Pinocchios.

 

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