Simple Questions, Simple Answers for North Carolina Voters

Is Kay Hagan the Clean Choice in North Carolina? Yes.

Is climate change real? Yes.

Is Kay Hagan Running Clean? Yes.

Is Thom Tillis a Dirty Denier? Yes.

Simple questions with simple answers. Unfortunately, Thom Tillis, who is challenging incumbent Kay Hagan to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate, can’t get even a simple question right. Asked at a debate whether climate change is real, Tillis replied simply: “No.”

That one short word betrays Tillis’s true priorities: siding with the big polluters who fund his campaign rather than protecting his state from the damaging effects of climate change. It’s a familiar pattern to those who have observed Tillis during his time in the North Carolina Assembly. While Tillis originally voted in favor of the state’s renewable electricity standard, Tillis said he supported the effort to repeal the standard five years later. Tillis was the Speaker of the Assembly when it voted to forbid the state’s coastal commission from planning for the increased sea level rise that scientists are predicting will occur due to climate change. He voted to authorize hydraulic fracturing in the state and to allow fracking companies to keep their toxic chemical blends secret from the public. Tillis also sponsored legislation that would allow coal ash to be kept in uncapped pits that fail to protect communities from the toxic sludge.

In contrast, Hagan has been working to protect North Carolina’s environment and the public’s health for more than a decade. Hagan started her political career – and her record as an environmental champion- in the North Carolina state Senate. As a state senator, she was a cosponsor of the Clean Smokestacks Act, which required all the state’s coal-fired power plants to substantially reduce their smog and acid rain pollution. The law also eventually led to EPA’s action to reduce cross-state air pollution, a rule which is predicted to save at least 13,000 lives per year and which Hagan voted to protect when it came under attack in the Senate. She supported the state’s renewable electricity standard and earned a score of 85 percent from the Conservation Council of North Carolina from 2003 to 2007.

Since taking office in the U.S. Senate, Hagan has continued to be a Clean Air Hero. She has voted again and again in favor of reducing pollution including the carbon pollution responsible for climate change and she has earned a lifetime score of 84 percent  from LCV.

The questions are simple.

Is climate change real? Yes.

Must we act on climate? Yes.

Which candidate agrees? Senator Kay Hagan.

On Election Night, Senate Races to Watch

As you gather your election night supplies (popcorn for watching, champagne for celebrating or something stronger to drown your sorrows) be sure you keep handy this primer on important Senate races. The outcomes in these contests could determine whether the Senate is led by a Clean Air Hero or a Dirty Air Villain for the next two years.

New Mexico

Former Rep. Heather Wilson and current Rep. Martin Heinrich are vying for an open Senate seat to represent The Land of Enchantment. A broad coalition of environmental groups have pledged their support for Heinrich because he has voted hundreds of times to protect the environment, to stand up for bedrock environmental laws and to improve public health. In contrast, in the House, Wilson voted four times to shield the makers of a toxic fuel additives from being held accountable for contaminating drinking water all around New Mexico. Wilson is still stuck in her polluter-funded past, supporting projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and more “drill, baby, drill” energy policy and doubting the science on man-made climate change.


In the Bay State, incumbent Senator Scott Brown is being challenged by Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. While Brown is running as a moderate Republican, he chose to side with polluters in voting for an extreme proposal that would have prevented EPA from reducing carbon pollution (thankfully, it failed). He also supported H.R. 1, the Senate budget bill, which was called “the worst anti-environmental bill EVER” for its crippling cuts to DOE’s clean energy programs and the EPA along with dozens of harmful environmental riders (again, thankfully, it failed). Warren’s campaign platform proclaims a strong commitment to public health and environmental protection. Warren has promised to end subsidies for Big Oil and to invest in clean energy. She isn’t afraid to talk about the promise of green jobs or the threat of climate change.


In Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Former Governor Tommy Thompson are competing for an open Senate seat. On both rhetoric and record, Baldwin can only be considered one of the most pro-environment Members of Congress. She boasts a 97% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, she is one of our Clean Air Heroes, and she has been a leader on the need to address climate change. While Thompson once said that the U.S. “must aggressively take on global warming,” times seem to have changed and his new campaign website never mentions climate change or any of its synonyms. Instead, it focuses on continuing our dependence on dirty energy by building the Keystone XL pipeline, opening new areas to oil and gas drilling and expanding “fracking” for natural gas.


Two former governors, Tim Kaine and George Allen, are competing for an open senate seat in Virginia. On energy, the records are clear. Allen has taken over half a million dollars in campaign cash from the oil and gas industry and consistently voted against the environment and to protect tax breaks and loopholes that line Big Oil’s pockets. What’s Kaine’s record? As Governor, he worked for land conservation, river cleanup, clean air, public transportation and energy efficiency. Fossil fuel interests, however, aren’t content to sit this one out and let the records speak for themselves. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS has already spent more than six million dollars opposing Kaine on top of millions being spent by other pro-polluter groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the curiously named American Commitment (commitment to what, asthma?)


In Ohio, incumbent Sherrod Brown is running against challenger Josh Mandel. Outside groups have already spent $9.7 million opposing Brown. Much of this shadow spending (in ads like this, this and this) attacks Brown for his votes on clean energy and protecting public health. After all, he’s a Clean Air Hero, he understands “the very real danger of climate change, which threatens our nation’s economic, environmental, and energy security,” and he’s championed a bill to end $15 to $20 billion in subsidies to Big Oil. In contrast, Mandel is a climate denier who has said he thinks the scientific research on the matter “is inconclusive and riddled with fraud.” He also thinks rules to reduce mercury from coal-fired power plants are “unnecessary” and wants to put a moratorium on any new protections.

Now you are ready. Grab your concessions and settle in for a long election night of watching the returns roll in and finding out whether or not clean energy and clean air champions win the day.