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!

Bruce Braley: Running Clean in the Heartland

“Shut down the federal EPA.” If you are an Iowan who likes dirty air, dirty water and unlimited quantities of harmful pollution, you are in luck. There is a Senate candidate in your home state who you are going to love: Joni Ernst.

Besides proposing to shut down the EPA, Ernst is Dirty Denier$ who has claimed that “global temperature shifts are a result of long-term cyclical patterns rather than the result of man-made activities.” She believes the Clean Water Act is a “business-damaging” law, though Iowans know it is essential for protecting rivers and streams – you know the exact waterbodies that water Iowa’s crops and feed many in our nation. If Ernst had her way, factory farms would be able to release unlimited quantities of nitrates, which can cause cancer and miscarriages, into Iowa’s water supply.

Luckily for Iowa voters, there is another candidate who is Running Clean. Congressman Bruce Braley has been a strong supporter of clean energy, clean water and action on climate change. Braley understands that “climate disruption is real” and that “Reducing our carbon output is not only necessary for the health of the planet, it’s an opportunity to continue to improve the health of the Iowa economy.” Braley has been especially focused on Iowa’s strong wind energy and biofuel industries. He has sponsored legislation to improve worker training in clean energy jobs, to extend wind energy tax credits and to end Big Oil tax breaks in favor of clean energy investment. Braley also understands how important clean water is to our families and Iowa’s agricultural community.

It’s no surprise who the oil billionaire Koch Brothers are supporting in this contest. Americans for Prosperity, which receives substantial funding from the Kochs, spent $688,805 on pro-Ernst television ads between June and mid-September. Ernst credits the Koch brothers, not Iowans with her career in politics.  Don’t believe us?  Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN_8nWS6uNc

Iowa voters need to know the truth about Joni Ernst. She is an extremist when it comes to environmental protection. Mainstream Iowa voters value the land and water that are essential to their way of life. If they want to see those resources protected, they will remember that Bruce Braley is the only candidate who is Running Clean.

An Endangered Species on the Ballot in Maine

Here at the NRDC Action Fund, we focus primarily on clean energy and climate change. But there are a host of other issues that are important to us too including clean air, clean water and protecting endangered species. Today’s post will highlight a severely endangered species: the Republican candidate who is Running Clean.

The habitat in the state of Maine seems to be perfectly suited for the species, as evidenced by the state’s senior senator, Susan Collins. Collins, who is running for reelection this year, has a long and strong record of support for environmental protection, land conservation and clean energy. Her record is the strongest of any Republican currently serving in Congress.

Collins, who was first elected in 1996, has consistently supported increased energy efficiency, a renewable electricity standard, and tax incentives for clean energy. Currently, Collins is especially focused on developing deepwater offshore wind energy. On clean air, Collins has voted to uphold EPA standards to reduce soot and mercury pollution from power plants (though she did fall short of “Clean Air Hero” status in 2012 due to her championing of an amendment that would have blocked standards designed to reduce mercury pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators.

Collins accepts the science of climate change and supports action, having called it “the most significant environmental challenge facing our planet.” Collins voted for the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act in 2008, has previously called herself a supporter of cap-and-trade and most recently sponsored a “cap and dividend” bill with Sen. Maria Cantwell.

It is true that Collins’ opponent, Shenna Bellows, should also be commended for her strong stances on environmental issues. However, Collins represents the environmental movements best hope to expand the tent of supporters.  It will be difficult to advance meaningful environmental policy ideas if our priorities continue to be partisan.

If Maine voters are looking not just to elect someone who can make a difference for their state’s environment, but also to make a difference nationally in protecting an “endangered species”, they should remember that Susan Collins is running clean.