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.

 

 

Cain’s Other Scandal

Herman Cain is having a moment. Thanks to his economics-by-mnemonics plan and his unconventional, smoke-filled ads, Cain recently shot to the top tier of the GOP campaign. He became what Ryan Lizza called the fringe frontrunner.

But when you step to center stage, you realize just how glaring the spotlight can be. Cain’s campaign is reeling from revelations that two former employees at the National Restaurant Association accused Cain of “inappropriate behavior.” His inconsistent statements about the ordeal are only making matters worse.

The harassment story will dominate Cain’s coverage for some time to come, but there is another scandal lurking in the background that deserves attention as well.

Mark Block, Cain’s chief of staff, has been implicated in a host of campaign financing improprieties. And as researchers pore over financial documents, they have found substantial links between Cain, Block, and the Koch Brothers.

Koch Industries own oil refineries and 4,000 miles of pipeline and was named one of the top 10 air polluters in the nation in a 2010 UMass-Amherst report. The Kochs’ political donations are often aimed at promoting their Libertarian views, but they also directly benefit their own profit margins. They have donated millions of dollars to nonprofit groups that fight environmental regulation and seed doubt about climate science. A Greenpeace report called them a “kingpin of climate science denial.” And though green groups tend to paint ExxonMobil as the worst of the worst when it comes to lobbying against climate legislation, Koch outspent even them.

It’s no surprise that Cain would attract Koch money and dollars. He says he doesn’t believe in climate change, and he believes public health and environmental safeguards are “burdensome.” Those are appealing positions for dirty polluters like the Koch’s business interests.

But now we can connect the dots. Cain’s Chief of Staff Mark Block ran the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a group cofounded by the Koch brothers to develop the Tea Party movement. Block met Cain through Americans for Prosperity and encouraged him to run for president. Block then launched spinoff groups from Americans for Prosperity, including Prosperity USA, which gave money and services to Cain’s campaign. It also paid for Block’s trip to meet with David Koch in Washington.

This doesn’t mean Cain was the Koch brothers’ top choice. They fund several candidates who back their anti-regulation, anti-clean energy, and anti-climate action agenda. They were major players in the midterm election and they will likely continue paying to keep their dirty talking points at the forefront of the presidential race.

That is their right, according to current campaign finance laws. But it is also voters’ right to know where the big money comes from and what kind of influence it buys. In the case of the Koch brothers, it seems to advance candidates who give polluters a free pass and disregard how this will damage the health of American families.

The Dirty Koch Brothers Launch Their Latest Spin Campaign

As if we haven’t heard enough from the Dirty Koch Brothers, now comes their latest scheme:  This week, Americans for Prosperity — which is founded and funded by dirty energy giant Koch Industries — is launching its “Running on Empty Tour” in an attempt to blame high gas prices on the environmental safety regulations and the Obama Administration.   You can be pretty sure they’re not going to talking about how gas prices are affected by Big Oil companies, foreign governments or oil industry speculators like, say, Koch Industries.  They’re planning to preach their lies in places like Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.

These wealthy fat cats are working hard to advance their misguided, dirty agenda which is full of falsehoods and great for their corporate bottom line — but it isn’t good for your family or your community.  Here are a few examples of their lies:

The lies just keep piling up.  They are spread like urban legend on talk-radio and even in the Capitol.

The solutions they propose in this latest roadshow, like more drilling, will not reduce your gas prices.  In fact, as much as it disturbs me as an environmentalist, the truth is that U.S. Oil production is higher under the Obama administration than it has been in years, according to the Energy Information Administration. Claims that drilling permits are being held up by environmental rules and the Obama Administration are just bogus. The agency that issues offshore drilling permits, in fact has issued shallow water drilling permits at a rate of six per month since October 2010.

The five largest privately held oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell — earned profits totaling $901 billion between 2001 and 2010, the non-profit Center for American Progress calculated using companies’ annual reports. And as prices rise, those profits will grow. Big Oil takes care of itself.

Their lies are making us less healthy, our economy less sustainable, our security more questionable and our environment dirtier.  We should do everything we can to stop them.