Happy Thanksgiving from the NRDC Action Fund

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. I so need this. Even-numbered years are always grueling at the NRDC Action Fund, but this one was particularly tough. The stakes seem to grow higher every day and most of the outcomes of this year’s election weren’t what I’d hoped for. I’m looking forward to a few days off, a few days home with my family, some delicious food, and a chance to reflect on all of the things for which I am grateful.

I’d like to share with you a few of the things on my environmental gratitude list this Thanksgiving.

Re-election of Clean Energy Champions

I am thankful the voters in New Hampshire and Maine re-elected their fantastic senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Susan Collins. These two were Running Clean from the start, working for solutions to climate change, improvements in energy efficiency and investments in new technologies like offshore wind that will reduce carbon pollution. Shaheen and Collins both have track records of working to find bipartisan solutions to big problems like climate change, and I’m so glad to know they’ll be back in the Senate for six more years. They join other reelected champs, like Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley, (D-OR), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Election of New Clean Energy Champions

I am thankful the House and Senate will be welcoming some great new members in January, who are well-prepared to go toe-to-toe with the Dirty Deniers who will be in control. Michigan voters will be represented by Gary Peters in the Senate and we are eager to see what Gwen Graham of Florida and Brad Ashford of Nebraska will do in the House. Peters has been working toward climate solutions, especially with regard to clean cars, for years in the House and Graham and Ashford are a welcome change from the climate skeptics they are replacing.

Progress on the International Stage

I am thankful the world is moving forward on tackling climate change. Just two weeks ago, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly agreed to make substantial reductions in their countries’ carbon pollution. It’s been called a “watershed moment” as the world’s two largest emitters have agreed to break the deadlock that has gripped the world’s climate negotiations for years. While we need to make progress much more quickly, I’m thankful for this important step forward.

Clean Power Plan

I am thankful for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The draft plan, released in June, would reduce carbon pollution 30% below 2005 emissions by 2030. It would also save the lives of 3,500 Americans in 2020 and every year after. We can’t afford to wait, and the EPA’s work to reduce carbon pollution is galvanizing international action.

Clean Energy Getting More Affordable

I am thankful the world’s investments in clean energy are paying off. Clean energy is getting cheaper. According to a recent report from Deutsche Bank, “solar electricity is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity-bill prices in 47 U.S. states” by 2016. Even if our solar tax credits are reduced, we’ll still see “grid parity” in 36 states that year. As prices come down, the arguments for clean energy and climate action get stronger. The Dirty Deniers are running out of excuses.

You

I am thankful for you. I am thankful for all the supporters of the NRDC Action Fund. I’m thankful for the more than 23,000 people who follow our Facebook page and the 4,500 people who follow our Twitter stream. I’m thankful for every one of you who have taken action to support candidates who are Running Clean with your donations and your votes and for every one of you who have told your elected leaders that you want Action on Climate.

Now, let’s go eat some turkey.

Doug Ose Was Dirty Then, Dirty Now; Bera is Running Clean (CA-07)

The campaign to represent California’s 7th House District is a clear contest between old and new. The incumbent is a freshman who is looking ahead to innovative, clean energy sources of the future. The challenger is a former congressman from a previous generation whose views on climate change and fossil energy are almost as old as the fuels themselves.

The incumbent, Dr. Ami Bera, is a physician by training. With his background in science, he understands the facts about climate change. Bera strongly supports government action to address the climate challenge. Bera has said that “Creating a clean energy future would generate millions of jobs, help our economy, and improve our lives. We can lead the way if we recognize the intersection of environmental sustainability, economic growth, national security and public health.”

Bera’s votes echo his rhetoric. He has earned a 93 percent score from the League of Conservation Voters for his first term in office. He consistently voted in favor of climate action, against taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil, and in favor of protecting bedrock environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Bera has also sponsored legislation to promote public-private partnerships to increase energy efficiency.

In contrast to Bera’s forward-looking approach, Doug Ose is stuck in the past. As a congressman from 1999 to 2005, Ose was already on the wrong side of history with his support for dirty energy and his votes against environmental protection. During his three congressional terms, Ose earned a pitiful 12 percent lifetime LCV score. He voted to increase offshore and Arctic drilling and opposed legislation to reduce smog pollution and increase energy efficiency and vehicle fuel economy.

Today his positions are even harder to understand as the climate science has strengthened and the need to act has grown more urgent. Ose is a #DirtyDenier$ who has said of climate change, “I am skeptical because of the science being sketchy.” He opposes government action to address the problem. Those who follow this blog regularly won’t be surprised to learn that Ose has received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry over the course of his career.

Voters in California’s 7th district are looking ahead to a bright, clean energy future. Only Dr. Ami Bera is Running Clean to lead them there.

 

Polluters Try to Make Something Out of Nothing

Climate change polluters don’t have a lot to work with this election season. Since the vast majority of American voters have repeatedly said they support limiting the carbon pollution from power plants, fossil fuel companies and their allies are left trying to make even the weakest numbers sound good.

This week the Partnership for a Better Energy Future—a mining, manufacturing, and agricultural coalition that includes frequent climate deniers like the US Chamber of Commerce—released a survey claiming that 47 percent of voters in oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to reduce carbon pollution.

As if less-than-a-half was something to trumpet.

These results stand in sharp contrast to nearly every independent poll conducted this year.

  • An ABC/Washington Post survey found that 7 in 10 Americans view climate change as a serious problem and support federal action to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • A poll conducted for NBC News/The Wall Street Journal reported that two-thirds of American residents support the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
  • A Bloomberg News poll even found that 62 percent of Americans were willing to pay more for energy if it mean reducing carbon pollution.
  • And a survey done by Yale University said voters are three times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes government action to address climate change.

NRDC Action Fund got similar results when we commissioned Harstad Strategic Research to poll voters in 11 swing states with close Senate races, including Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas. More than two-thirds of those surveyed said the EPA should limit carbon pollution from power plants. That includes 53 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats.

Most Americans recognize that cleaning up dangerous pollution is good for their families and the economy. But that doesn’t stop dirty industries from trying to hold on to their loopholes and giveaways.

The so-called Partnership for a Better Energy Future paid to poll voters in purple states—many of them coal-heavy—and even then, they couldn’t muster a majority. It’s like a punch line. They even tried to stack the deck by posing the kind of technical questions that tend to make respondents more inclined to say no, yet they had little to show for it.

In Iowa, for instance, the survey claimed that 45 percent of Iowa residents were less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon pollution. Yet a recent survey from lowa Interfaith Power & Light, meanwhile, found that 75 percent of Iowans were more likely to support a candidate who promotes clean renewable energy. Iowa, after all, gets 27 percent of its energy from wind power and has more than 43,000 Iowans working in the clean economy.

The EPA’s plan to reduce carbon pollution will bring the benefits of clean energy—including good-paying jobs, safer air, and greater climate stability—to more communities. That’s why so many Americans support it and that’s why smart candidates are running on clean energy and climate action. Even the polluters’ own polling shows that the numbers favor climate champions.

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.

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!